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Old 08-02-2002, 06:56 AM   #1
Samson
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I realize this has little to do with mudding - bear with me - I'm in one of my moods

Based on what "Mr. Average" would be able to install while using my computer.

Mr. Average is just that. Your average PC user who knows how to boot the machine, install software, check his email, surf the net, play games, listen to MP3s, burn CDs, write documents, and can generally hold his own as long as the GUI cooperates with him. He doesn't know jack #### about how to open his case and fiddle with his hardware. He only knows that the system he purchased ( which coincidently happens to mirror my own configuration, go figure ) works. He's currently running Windows XP, and has in the past used other Microsoft operating systems without much trouble. He's been reading a lot of bad things about Microsoft lately and does not want to be tied down to them in the future because he doesn't like the new licensing scheme they've come up with. He also doesn't much care for the fact that Microsoft OS's cost so damn much money and is sick of the upgrade cycle. Viruses, worms, and hackers are a daily battle for him since so many of his peers fail to take steps to protect themselves and he's getting tired of having to keep up the subscriptions on his antivirus software. Some of his more tech savvy friends have told him about a curious beast known as Linux, which has many different flavors. Unfortunately his tech savvy friends are busy people who haven't got time to help him out, so he'll have to handle this on his own. After doing some research on the net, Mr. Average has found several desktop oriented Linux distributions to try. He's quite excited to find that they're all FREE, or very reasonably priced for those that have retail versions.

Having been educated by one of his freinds in how to deal with dual-boot, he used a copy of Partition Magic 7.0 to split his existing hard drive into 3 pieces. One will remain his main XP partition, in NTFS format for those things XP will still be required for. A second one has been setup as FAT32, for data that can be shared between both operating systems, such as image files, MP3s, and text documents. The 3rd partition has been left unallocated and will be set aside for use by Linux.

So he sits down one day with his DSL line, his burner, and a new tube of 24x CDRs and has at it.

Redhat 7.3:
Naturally he comes to this one first, since it's been the most talked about, and some of his friends use it too. The CD boots up with no trouble, and the graphical installer is pretty straightforward. A few clicks later and some typing, Redhat is busy installing packages to the hard drive. Recognized and installed with no need to shuffle hardware ( It liked the HPT372 ) just fine. It even setup the dual-boot automatically. Once done, it asked him to reboot, so he rebooted. The new bootloader screen was easy enough to figure out, and so he selected the Redhat option. It seemed to have liked everything except the sound card, silence. The Windows partitions were intact, and Redhat could even read files from the NTFS volume, although it coudln't write to it. The default refresh that came up in KDE was set WAY too low. Too bad the KDE GUI didn't have controls to alter screen refresh rates. It also installed numerous unnecessary programs for desktop use, which wasn't overly surprising since it was really a Workstation install. Except this means his "Start Menu" is cluttered with a lot of things he has no plans to use. Figuring out how to remove them has proven frustrating, since he can't find the "Add/Remove Programs" equivalent. Closest thing he could find was the RPM manager, which he couldn't quite grasp how to use. He's also got no idea there are servers running in the background he didn't know about, which are making his system seem sluggish. There's also no sound, so his rather extensive MP3 collection is useless to him. The refresh problem has also proven to be more than he can stand. He's given up and decided to move on.
Results: It worked - almost. Mr. Average wants his sound support to function. He's not happy. First 3 coasters on the pile. Rebooted back into XP.
Absolutely excellent as a server OS though.

Lycoris Desktop/LX:
Mr. Average has heard some hype about a new company called Lycoris. They've apparently got a flashy new distribution called Desktop/LX. He recalls having seen a package on the shelf at Fry's and decided to give it a shot. A couple of hours later he has the CD burned and is ready to roll. The installer was very clean, simple, and easy to follow. Everything appeared to go as planned, and it even asked about the bootloader. Mr. Average was even pleasantly surprised by the solitaire game he was able to play while waiting for the packages to install. Or did they? Ooops. No, they didn't. The system has crashed, saying the packages can't be installed. He has no idea why either.
Results: Failure. Not ready for prime time. One more coaster on the pile. Rebooted to XP.

Note - Mr. Average would NOT do this: After moving the HD to a normal IDE port, it installed. Apparently Lycoris decided to cut off anyone with a Highpoint IDE Raid controller.
Rebooted: Misidentified all hardware except the network card, failed to recognize CD burner. Installed cleanly on an old P2400 system I use in school. Quite a nice little OS, if you have junk for a computer. Which leads to the inevitable slow experience. Any system newer than 2 years will fail, period. Sad.
"Everything just works!" Hardly. It needs to install before you can claim this, yes?
"Linux is for everyone." Agreed. But again, it need to work first.

Elx 1.0:
While poking around the Lycoris forums ( and learning that his failure had something to do with an HPT372 controller ) he ran across a link to another distribution he hadn't heard of yet called Elx. After reading up on their website, he thought "Wow, this should be great!" Downloaded the ISO, burned it, rebooted. DOA. Failed to enter install phase. Mr. Average acquires another coaster. Rebooted to XP.
Pretty sad too, they're making some rather bold claims about being easy to migrate to.
"Everyone's Linux" Nope. Not hardly.

Libranet 2.0:
Mr. Average returns to his previously researched list and moves on to Libranet. Downloaded the ISO, burned it, rebooted. Mr. Average is greeted with something really uncool - a text based installer. The first thing it did was lead him to something called cfdisk, which was apparently for partitioning the drive. After trying to get it to work, and having no luck, he gave up. Rebooted to XP.
Result: Failure. Coaster.
What Mr. Average didn't realize was that this HAD actually written something and the installer simply died afterwards. Failed to proceed past partition editing. This would seem to suggest it recognized the drive though, which is an improvement.
Also making some rather grand claims about being easy to use, but the portions of the installer I was able to get to weren't even graphical.
"Libranet is user friendly for new users" Somehow I don't think so....

Slackware 8.1:
Growing tired of the frustration, he moves on to Slackware. Burned CD, rebooted. Again he's greeted by a text based installer, only this time he has no real idea where to go from here. It asked him to log in as root, so he did. It sat there, cursor blinking. Nothing.
Result: HELL NO! Mr. Average nearly fainted, then deleted the ISO and tossed the CD on the coffee table. Then he rebooted back into XP.
Mr. Average was spared the truly awful grief of getting into cfdisk, making partions, and being further greeted by yet ANOTHER non-GUI installer. Ok, fine. I can handle this, I'm a very above average kind of person. Failed to proceed past Swap partition formatting. Obviously it must have recognized the drive, or it never would have made it this far. No idea why it decided to crash after making it to this point. Installer is complex as hell, though they aren't making any claims that it should be easy, so no strike against them here. Though one does have to wonder how they got included on a list of DESKTOP distros.

SuSE 8.0:
Mr. Average was unable to find the ISOs anywhere for this and gave up. After having been stopped at every turn thus far, he's not about to risk paying good money for this.
Result: Unknown. Hey, no coaster at least.
It should also be noted here that SuSE is apparently making some rather bad decisions along the lines of closed-source and per-seat licensing for the OS. This reeks too much of M$ tactics.

Lindows:
Mr. Average balked immediately at the idea of paying ANYONE $99 for beta software. He's already done this twice before with previous versions of Windows. He's also seen nothing but bad press on the net about it.
Result: Failure. But at least it didn't become a VERY costly coaster. *I* won't spend the $99 either!
The one thing Lindows currently has in their favor - a cushy deal with WalMart. The only problem? All the bad press about Lindows recently is going to spill over generically. What do I mean? People like Mr. Average will probably equate it like so: Lindows = Linux. Lindows = bad. Therefore Linux = bad.

Xandros:
Mr. Average has heard alot of nice things from some of his smarter friends about this one. Except there's no download available. So he had to pass.
Result: Unknown.
This is another distro making some bold statements. Time will tell.

Debian 3.0:
Mr. Average was unable to find the ISOs anywhere for this and gave up.
Result: Unknown. But at least it's not a coaster.

Mr. Average therefore came to the conclusion that Linux isn't going to work for him. Although he may not like the direction Microsoft is headed with their licensing and privacy issues ( Palladium anyone? ) he's decided that he has little choice but to remain with XP for now. Afterall, XP does everything he wants to do, and does it without crashing. It has the support of every major hardware vendor on the planet. His games all work on it. But hey, he's got 7 new coasters which are sure to make good conversation pieces someday. Oh, and a nice new tube of CDRs to burn some of his MP3s with.

Now then. Hopefully this piece has made it clear that we haven't arrived just yet. We're working on it. Just hasn't happened yet. In addition to having messed with the above, I'm also planning to take a crack at the Mandrake 9.0 beta, as well as the Redhat 7.4( Limbo ) beta. They both make claims of being geared more toward the type of people Mr. Average is meant to portray, but being beta software would be unsuitable for someone like him. I've also been to the Gentoo page and liked what I was reading about their Portage system and the whole "emerge" way of installing packages. This of course would be WAY beyond the scope of anything Mr. Average would want, but it does look like a damn nice way to do things.

You may also have figured out by now that I'm annoyed at the fact that such a common piece of hardware is not supported by anyone but Redhat. It may also have been somewhat obvious that I've made my displeasure known on the Lycoris forums about this as well, since I spent an undo amount of time with that particular distro. How was I repaid? In typical fashion - by being asked to alter my current hardware configuration to accomadate THEM, instead of the way it should be. What's more, it seems I may have ****ed them off in telling them that the hardware needs to be supported. Attempts to leave posts on the forums using Mozilla are flatly rejected, saying I have no post permissions. I've got a registered account, and can use it from school. Appears they have IP banned me or something. While using Opera, I'm repeatedly bombarded with "poisoned cookies" that seem to bear this out since the cookies simply identify my connection as "user=deleted". Praise Opera for being able to circumvent this by repeatedly refusing to accept the cookies. I *WANTED* to like it, and in fact I do. Quite a bit actually. It's currently sharing space on the drive I use for school. Classmates have commented on how cool it looks. They've even gone so far as to ask for copies of it, which I happily provided them. I'm expecting that they'll encounter the same issues I had when they install it. Yes, you guessed it. Three of the five people I gave copies to have HPT controllers.
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Old 08-03-2002, 06:42 AM   #2
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I can't claim to be Mr. Average, of course. I hope most people who post here regularly won't be able to either...

The fact is, Lindows is probably going to be the way to go as far as getting people more Linux-oriented. It's OSX 10.2 for the PC, in effect; full compatability with Linux filesystems and software, but with a happy little GUI on top so that you don't have to deal with pulling up a terminal (kinda like what mac did 9 months ago -- F*CKING M&#036. Not only that, but apparently WINE is standard on Lindows, and has a really nifty GUI and advanced implementation stuff that's supposed to make installing windows apps on Lindows almost exactly the same.

If these guys are as good as they claim, I'm running to my nearest warez dealer and stealing a copy pronto. I'd suggest you follow Lindows and SuSE up; the demo version I downloaded of SuSE has me almost ready to fork over the cash for it.

-Visko
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Old 08-03-2002, 11:49 AM   #3
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Mr Average failed to check out Mandrake:

Easier to install than RedHat, and it should recognize everything. If you've got an 8bit sound card, its probably a little too old to do anything.... :-)

Mandrake even set up the printer server on my wife's computer, which was a definite pluse. They've got a "Mandrake:The Sims" which comes with a hefty version of WINE and the Sims, too.

Unfortunately, Mandrake and POSIX are diametric opposites, and I didn't like the way it put everything in it's own unique areas. Mandrake's kernel is something like 2.32.x, versus 2.4.18 on the standard tree. Installing 2.4.18 requires some work, and breaks some libraries.

Mandrake became a 3-coaster set sent to a friend in Washington, who is now running it exclusively on his computer. Slackware went onto the wife's, and is great.

Linux is not on a par with windows for games. If you want a gaming computer, stick with MS. If, on the other hand, games are incidental to stability, power, utility, or your need for a development platform, linux is a great OS. Much like the MacOS's of the 90's, it has strengths other than gaming. And, much like the MacOS, when a game is finally ported over it is stabler and has more features, usually. And it comes with the source code Quake on Linux is awesome. So is freeCiv.

I'm curious why you would set up three partitions. On my old hard drive, I had a dualboot WinME/Linux setup. The WinME partition was Fat32, and mounted on startup for my linux machine. NTFS should be read-writable on any standard setup. If it isn't then SAMBA should work for mounting and unmounting the partition..... I think. I keep meaning to set up my kids computer as a mountable volume on my wife's and mine....they have Win98 on their machine.
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Old 08-03-2002, 09:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Robbert @ Aug. 03 2002,08:49 am)
Mr Average failed to check out Mandrake:

Easier to install than RedHat, and it should recognize everything. If you've got an 8bit sound card, its probably a little too old to do anything.... :-)

I'm curious why you would set up three partitions. On my old hard drive, I had a dualboot WinME/Linux setup. The WinME partition was Fat32, and mounted on startup for my linux machine. NTFS should be read-writable on any standard setup. If it isn't then SAMBA should work for mounting and unmounting the partition..... I think. I keep meaning to set up my kids computer as a mountable volume on my wife's and mine....they have Win98 on their machine.
Yes, he did manage to not try out Mandrake. Mainly because while I was doing the research for this, I ran across a significant amount of negative press that would have shown up in an "average" user's web hunt. So I decided to pass at the time. After having done some deeper digging on their site, that appears to have been a mistake since they do seem to have come a long way since version 7
The other reason being that they're already in beta 2 of the 9.0 release, which I'm planning to take a look at, in addition to the RH 7.4 beta. No doubt both will prove to be an interesting experience.

As for why I set my partitions up this way. When I installed XP from scratch, it didn't present me with a FAT32 option, so I had little choice but to go with NTFS. It owned the whole drive at the time. Once I got the urge to sample Linux distros, I cut off a huge chunk for FAT32 storage since Linux can read this with little trouble and I figured on using it for the shared data that both OS's could use. The 3rd partition is obviously where Linux gets loaded natively. Several distributions can READ NTFS just fine, but I've been told by a lot of people that it has serious issues with being able to WRITE back to them, which I wasn't willing to risk. Lycoris can't write NTFS for one, which was one of the ones I wanted to sample.

And it's NOT an 8 bit sound card! BAH!
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Old 08-04-2002, 04:35 AM   #5
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Ugh. Much frustration. Mandrake 9.0b2 failed to install, same reason apparently. Even though the brief kernel message spam indicated it DID see the controller, even identified it by name. But hey, it's betaware. So we shall see if the 8.2 install disk has the same problem.

And holy God. Why does the Redhat site take so LONG to download stuff! ARGH!
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Old 08-04-2002, 10:58 AM   #6
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What's happening, when you say "failed to install" ? Is it getting everything done and failing on bootup? Or is it hanging at a particular install screen?

Mandrake (and, in fact, Slackware !!!) has three levels of install open to the user: text interface, ANSI graphics (like the old DOS shells) and full graphic. Lemme know where it's hanging, and I can probably talk you through that part of it.

All distros should include RAID support as part of their kernel. Is your RAID card flash-upgradable, and if so have you done the latest upgrade?

In all of the distro's, there is a problem with the LILO boot loader configurator if you have a dual- or multi-boot system. If, when you reboot, you get "LI" on the screen and then it hangs,t his is because LILO has set itself up wrong. This is a known problem and supposed to be fixed in the next distribution(s). I can talk you through what is necessary to circumvent this if this is the problem.

I did some research on NTFS systems, and understand now why you would have the three partitions. I'm not certain, but you may be able to mount that partition through samba services; the documentation isn't clear on whether you can do a local load of it as well as a remote.

When you say three partitions, are you also setting up a fourth as a linux swap partition?
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Old 08-04-2002, 12:14 PM   #7
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The question is though, WHY would Mr. Average even bother with Linux atm? Linux is more an operating systems for power users or those who hate Microsoft with a passion. Linux for desktop is not that good at best, pretty much compareable to the level of MS Windows 3.1 at the time. Does it have a future as desktop? I don't know and that's a whole different subject. Fact is, Mr Average shouldn't be messing around with installing OSes at all, considering my Win2k install gave me far more troubles then my Linux Slackware 8.1 install. (in which I'm currently using Mozilla to browse the net and later on to do a NFS install of Slackware to my server that doesn't have a CDROM drive)

Anyways, NTFS partitions are only mountable as read-only. NTFS network shares can be mounted using SmbFS though, and they work absolutely fine, both reading and writing. Bad thing is this only works with Windows-mounted and networked partitions, so you can't access your own HD through Linux with this...
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Old 08-04-2002, 01:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
The question is though, WHY would Mr. Average even bother with Linux atm? Linux is more an operating systems for power users or those who hate Microsoft with a passion. Linux for desktop is not that good at best, pretty much compareable to the level of MS Windows 3.1 at the time.
I disagree. Windows is nothing more than a gaming platform, if you look at it objectively. Koffice and Staroffice can replicate the inherent utility of MS Office, Mozilla 1.x offers more functionality than MSIE, GAIM 0.5x is more versatile than trillian or any other messaging system on Windows. X and KDE provide more features than any windows system ever did, once one learns the interface, and Gnome is much stabler and more customizable than windows. Enlightenment, FVWM and other window managers all mix customization seamlessly with their own metaphorical intefaces. XMMS provides the same features, with better resolution than winamp ever has, and XINE and the libdvdcss system allows for DVD playback at a better rate than windows software or hardware based solutions do.

Wine replicates the inherent utility of the windows DLL's, but is difficult for Joe Average to configure, and does not provide the same functionality as a true windows platform.

Programming in windows involves either using windows specific platforms or an inordinate amount of work to make the program function properly, and is not cross-platform testable. Programming in Linux is intuitive, native, and simple. Compilers for Fortran, C, C++, Java, GTK, and more are standard includes with all distributions.

Playing games in windows requires unique settings, special drivers, possibly specially configured boot options, and a plethora of other initialization settings.

Playing the available games in linux is simple, so long as you have an understanding of the way linux operates.

I have windows on one of the computers in my house. Win 98. It lasts about 4 days tops before it crashes, even with no activity on it.

The machine from which I'm writing this is my laptop, and has been online for 99 days. I have moved it from the house to my network at work, and restarted the network configuration there without rebooting. It has remained through two power outages, and still is running strong.

My wife's desktop has run for 8 days now, after losing power for longer than the UPS can hold the system up.

We use Linux for its inherent utility and stability.

When we want to play games, we use the windows machine.

When we want to do some serious work, we use linux. Because that's what it's made for.
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Old 08-04-2002, 02:42 PM   #9
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Well...

I have to admit, the latest programs that run on Linux are indeed a good step closer to the Desktop OS market for Mr. John Doe. Evolution beats Outlook and Outlook Express hands down. Mozilla makes IE redundant as a browser. KDE and Gnome have matured and grown into nicely looking desktops, however...

Like I said, the level of Linux on the desktop market is still compareable to Win3.1 or Win95 at best. There is still a command line interface underneath the GUI and CLIs are things that scares Mr. John Doe halfway into next week. It's time to get rid of the shell scripts and make a clear definition between Desktop Linux distros and Server Linux Distros.

What is needed is something like Windows, with X compiled into the kernel and optimized for speed. Add standard good programs that allows Mr. John Doe to do what he wants, like surf the net with Mozilla, write and read emails with Evolution and write up a pretty letter in OpenOffice. Mr Doe doesn't want the latest Apache HTTP server with mod_perl, PHP 4.3.0CVS, mod_auth_mysql and whipped cream on top of it. Nor would Mr Doe have a small armada of techinical buzzwords thrown at him. Hide Debian apt-get under a nice frontend and make it simple so users can download entire programs with a single mouseclick and have them installed.

But untill we clearly divide Linux Desktop distros and Linux Server distros, (Red Hat being very guilty here) Linux as a Desktop will FAIL repeatedly for Mr Average.
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Old 08-04-2002, 08:28 PM   #10
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Robbert,

In the vast majority of cases, the boot CD will simply panic before getting somewhere to try options. Slackware was odd, it got all the way up to formatting swap, then just mysteriously stopped. The Mandrake installer for the 9.0 beta 2 made it to DiskDrake, then failed to write partitions. Not sure if this is due to being beta, or if it genuinely didn't know what to do, but it wouldn't let me go any further. Lycoris got clear to the end, where it claimed to be installing packages, then suddenly realized it couldn't and crashed. After having altered the partition tables AND installing Grub. Redhat 7.3 has thus far been the only distro to successfully install, and survive a reboot.

HPT372 controllers aren't cards, they're the onboard IDE Raid chips that ship with Abit motherboards and some other brands. They're becoming quite popular. Not only do they allow IDE Raid, they also function simply to add more IDE channels so you can squeeze more devices in, or simply spread the ones you have out so they all get their own channel. This is why I like them, and how I use them. Slaving IDE devices is notorious for slowing things down. I doubt anything short of compiling the driver module for the kernel will allow any of the failed distros to operate, but that's a catch-22 since I can't get any of them installed
And yes, I have the latest BIOS revision for the motherboard in place, which has the latest HPT372 BIOS in it.

I'm not sure why you state that playing games in Windows needs special settings, drivers, and such. With XP Pro, it doesn't. All you need is your video driver, sound driver, DirectX, and the game. The rest is as easy as popping the CD in and going. Many times, the game handles the DirectX install for you. In Linux, it's more or less the same. You need a properly configured video driver, sound driver, and then you need the game. Granted, you don't need DirectX, but then most Linux games I've seen would qualify as "cheesy" for most gamers I know. Video and sound aren't easy things to get working if they don't confugre themselves at install. Compilling custom drivers is enough to send most average users screaming. Wine isn't there yet, and WineX is a joke.

Ingham,

I tend to agree completely at this time. Linux isn't quite ready for Mr. Average. Lycoris has made the most progress of any I can see, but even they just aren't quite there. Lots of other hardware fails on theirs too. I'd tend to agree that Linux has reached the level of Win3.11/Win95 as far as average usability. KDE3.1 may make this rise to 95/98 levels, but only if the underlying distros can be installed easily. This more or less puts current desktop distros about 7 years behind the curve.
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Old 08-10-2002, 01:20 PM   #11
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Mr Average should stay out of the 'install OS' business, and get his #### together, with the windows XP pre-installed on the PC when he buys it. He should also sell his soul, and donate his first-born son, to Bill Gates.
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Old 08-10-2002, 02:46 PM   #12
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If you boot your shiny new machine with a Linux distro disk - any distribution - and immediately cfdisk or fdisk your worthless windows OS from the drive, and install Linux, you can get the cost refund of the windows OS from the manufacturer.

To be eligible for the refund, you have to have never used the OS, which means it cannot have been booted up after you owned it.

I've heard that XP doesn't require rebooting after changing the IP information. What a concept....
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