A Linspire Genealogy Notebook Machine

L. David Roper (roperld@vt.edu)

For reasons to switch from Windows to Lindow/Linux: Comparison of Linux and Windows

With the availability of a Linspire notebook computer at a low price and the support of Win4Lin (http://www.win4lin.com) for Linspire, one can set up a very slick Linux computer to carry around as one does genealogy in different locations.

I set up Linspire with 4 desktops named Int, Lin, SETI, W98. I enable the desktops pager on the panel (right-click on panel, choose Applet-Pager), so that one can easily switch between the desktops. (I keep SETI@home [http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu] running all the time, except when I am doing computing-intensive calculations, on the SETI desktop.) When doing Internet tasks I use the Int desktop. The Lin desktop is for managing Linspire and running Linux programs. The W98 desktop is for Win4Lin/Win98 for running genealogy programs for which there are no Linux versions.

Linspire, by means of Click-N-Run, has programs one needs to do tasks for most purposes. So I only consider the special needs for genealogy.

The main program that one needs is a genealogy program for storing, manipulating and reporting data. One wants a Graphical User Interface (GUI) program. The only one I know about for Linux is GRAMPS (http://gramps.sourceforge.net). GRAMPS can be installed at no charge through Click-N-Run.

I wish that Personal Ancestral File (PAF), my favorite genealogy program, were available for Linux. Since PAF isn't available for Linux, I need Windows to use it. (Conversion of PAF to Linux would cause it to dominate genealogy on Linux.) You can download PAF 5.0 for Windows free at http://survey.familysearch.org/pafreg/PAF5Registration.asp?LocCode=DIST

I often use the DOS program City/County Finder II (http://www.coxsoftware.com/ccfinder.htm): "It will help you find the location of any stored city/town/community (populated place), county, or geographic location in the United States. It can also search for all cities in a given county, all counties in a given state, and do a proximity search listing all other cities within X miles (from 2 to 99) of a designated city or set of coordinates. Searches can be based on complete names, 'sounds like' names, or partial names." So I need Windows to use this program.

One can run Windows 98 in Linspire through the Win4Lin 9x(http://www.win4lin.com). For about $200 you can add Windows 98 functionality to Linspire. Windows 98 on Win4Lin runs at about the same speed as it would on the native machine, but rebooting is much faster on Win4Lin. There is a more expensive version of Win4Lin (Pro 1.1) that also allows Win XP to run inside Linux.

Lin4Win is very easy to install. You must first have Linspire set up so that it can connect to the Internet. Then run the win4lin-install program on the Win4Lin CD-ROM and choose to register and download all updates and the compatible Win4Lin kernel for your Linspire version. (If you do not have the Win4Lin license file, /var/win4lin/install/license.lic, from a previous install, you must choose to register Win4Lin every time you install Win4Lin or the install program will not recognize that you have the Win4Lin kernel replacement.) The Win4Lin kernel will then be the first (default) option on the boot screen, followed by the normal kernel. (If you want the original kernel to be the default boot option you can change the default boot by editing the /etc/lilo.conf file and then running the lilo command in a terminal session.) After Win4Lin is installed it will automatically take you to installation of Win98.

Win4Lin has excellent user support, at no charge to licensed users

I find it convenient to have MS Streets and Trips and MS World Atlas in Win4Lin/Win98 on the notebook to locate places when doing genealogy.

You may have to use static IP with a different IP address number than Linspire has for connection to the LAN in W98. When done properly one can see computers on the LAN and the Linspire side of the machine.