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posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 05:43pm on 16/11/2007 under , ,
You'd think after running Linux for 12 years I wouldn't have major problems with it. And for the most part I don't. But then come those weeks when I seem to get bitten by every remaining bug in the system.....

Last week I decided it was time to upgrade my computers to the current version of Ubuntu Linux. First was my work computer; that went mostly except that now the system clock runs too fast. Until I can track down that bug, I'm never entirely sure what time it actually is when I'm at my desk. But I ran into this problem when I first set up the machine, so I just need to remember how I solved it then. (Update: booting with acpi=off notsc fixed it.)

Next was my big home machine, since the Ubuntu version it was running was a year and a half old. Unfortunately I neglected to test the new version on my computer ahead of time, so I ended up with no graphics; somehow my old ATI Radeon video card is no longer working properly with the new version. No problem, I thought, I have a spare Matrox card in a box here.... well, first I discovered that the Matrox card has a half-height plate on the back, so I had to pull that off before sticking it in the machine. Then I discovered that a different bug is preventing me from getting graphics with that card.

So now I'm looking for a cheap but decent graphics card that's well-supported in Linux, has digital DVI output, and doesn't require proprietary drivers. That search seems a lot harder than it used to be.

Next I turn to the laptop. That one is actually a bit of a success story -- it's about 7 years old, and has its problems, but still does most of what I need it to do. The most annoying problem with it is that the mouse pointer likes to run to the bottom of the screen and stay there. I took to carrying around a tiny USB mouse and disabling the internal stick, but that's a hassle. So this week I came across a place online that sells replacement laptop keyboards (which in the case on my laptop includes the mouse pointer stick), and bought one. It arrived yesterday, I installed it, and it works great. It's actually kind of weird having keys that aren't worn smooth; it almost feels like a new machine.

But being such an old laptop, the batteries barely work, so I also bought replacements for those. Sadly, the first one that arrived was DOA and I have to send it back.

Now I'm upgrading Ubuntu on the laptop. I tested it from CD first, so I'm pretty sure the graphics will work (though no cool 3D effects). Now I go back to fixing the problems with the other two machines.

At least having three machines here means that they're hit with different problems, and when I do have problems with one I can fall back to the others.
Mood:: 'frustrated' frustrated
There are 7 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
posted by (anonymous) at 11:45pm on 16/11/2007
Maybe it's time to try another distro.

Richard Chapman
posted by [identity profile] rfunk.livejournal.com at 02:15am on 17/11/2007
The problem isn't Ubuntu. The problem is primarily video card vendors and the X developers, and secondarily Intel and the kernel developers.
posted by [identity profile] rfunk.livejournal.com at 09:19pm on 17/11/2007
Admittedly, I can blame Ubuntu for problems on two of the machines caused by bad interactions between evms and udev (requiring me to do a rescue boot and remove evms) after upgrading. But that's no big deal to me.
posted by [identity profile] anivair.livejournal.com at 07:29am on 17/11/2007
Bah: he's a fanboy. heh.

though i'm not sure I can come up with a fix for that in ubuntu. I'll look. I have never had any trouble with nvidia cards.
posted by [identity profile] rfunk.livejournal.com at 04:40pm on 17/11/2007
Yeah, a Google search for his name and Linux results in lots of comments telling people not to use Ubuntu.

nVidia cards are not an option for me until nVidia opens up their specs for free 3D drivers. Recent ATI cards are just starting to become an option; that's still a gray area, but unlike nVidia there's hope for the future. I refuse to use hardware that requires proprietary drivers.
posted by [identity profile] secretsoflife.livejournal.com at 12:48am on 17/11/2007
on a laptop that old you might want to have a look at xubuntu.

also, if you get weird sticky key problems when you do get compiz working on the desktop, make sure your keyboard is set to the right layout and increase the delay before key repeat a little bit. it seems to be a really common problem.
posted by [identity profile] rfunk.livejournal.com at 02:18am on 17/11/2007
Actually I'm using Kubuntu -- I like KDE. And I tested KDE against XFCE earlier this year and found that once I loaded all the apps I want, KDE actually uses less memory than XFCE. (But now I have 512MB of memory so it shouldn't be much of an issue anyway.)

I'll keep the keyboard tips in mind, thanks!


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