Sunday, May 9, 2010

KNOPPIX to the rescue!

OK, this week was a comedy of errors is my Computer Math class!
Actually it was my Advanced Computer Math class, the second semester of our pre Computer Science course. We were doing some simple object based projects in C++ recently. So, I thought it would be nice to try a graphics class. I decided to use the graphics class from "Computing Concepts with C++ Essentials" 2nd edition. I've used this class in the past without a problem.

I forgot, however, that we had upgraded our server, based on Debian, from the XFree86 to the newer Xorg Linux windowing system last summer. The graphics class we were using needs to link to the files in a directory called X11 in /usr/X11R6/lib which doesn't exist anymore! So I tried to reinstall it with the command line "sudo apt-get install libX11-dev" as suggested by some people with the same problem at Drexel University. This didn't work as apt-get reported the file deprecated in the Debian repository.

So, I downloaded the last version of QUANTIAN DVD iso (based on KNOPPIX 4.0 which, in turn, is based on Debian from 2005) and burned it for my students. This was a great fix as the old X11R6 system worked fine on a PC booted from that DVD! The problem now was that my clients have Fedora 12 installed and the burning software is a little buggy. It took so long to burn just 12 DVDs that I had to have the class burn and test the remaining 12 DVDs that we needed. What good sports!

OK, the next day my students booted up the whole class with QUANTIAN and we were ready to go, right? Nope, the DVDs would not recognize eth1 which is configured to be used as our private Linux intranet so we can remotely store files on our sftp server. It worked fine the day before, so that network must have been down for some odd reason (never been down before).

Anyway, I showed my students how to be the "super user" and setup static IPs on their eth0s and we were finally good to go. We successfully wrote, compiled and saved a few lines of graphics code without errors and the bell rang!

I think that next week I'll download the KNOPPIX 4.0.2 CD and burn that for them. It should still have X11R6 but be a bit less buggy with our modern hardware (also faster to download, burn and boot).

...the best laid plans of mice and men.

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