Project "Ubuntu @Home" – weekend update

As I mentioned the other day,I am planning to start using Ubuntu as my main operating system at home, and use VMware to run Windows applications when needed.


Late Friday evening I started by emptying a 250 GB IDE harddisk from files, and then I unplugged all drives except the empty one as a precaution. I put the CD containing Ubuntu 9.10 ("Karmic Koala") in the computer and turned on the power. The install went extremely smooth, and I even found some new things I really liked compared with 9.04 that I had installed on my son’s computer this pastsummer. For example, you can now select "United States" and then "Central" as time zone, instead of having to set the location to either Chicago or some small town i never heard about. Why a large city like Dallas is not in the list baffles me, though…


The operating system found some hardware, but not the wireless network card. I actually tried both a Xyxel G-302and a Netgear WG311, none of them really unknown cards. I then (thanks to the online help) found out how to use a Windows driver, and I got the Netgear card to work. I choose that card since I was able to find the driver CD in my messy office. 🙂

I then installed the Nvidia graphics drivers. This is where i had some problems. I have a GeForce 7900 GS card, so with some help from Google, I found instructions on how to get the latest drivers, and installed them. I think I had to do some recompiling of parts of the operating system as well. I got the drivers to somewhat work, but then something went wrong. In the end I just re-installed the opearting system and started over. I then found out about Envy, and it was a breeze to get the drivers installed.

I now had the drivers installed, and even gottwinview working.


There was just one problem. The resolution was just 1152×864 on each monitorat the most, while I was used to 1280×1024 in Windows. The second monitor, a Samsung, was able to go up to the resolution, but my CyberVision C92 was not recognized. After some googeling, I figured out that I had to modify the file /etc/X11/xorg.conf in order to provide the hsync and vsync values. I changed the values, after I figured out that I could not just use the editor gedit from the menu, I had to go to the terminal and start it from the command line using sudo in order to get full access to the system. Why there is no right-click and "run as root", I don’t get…

I restarted (I am sure there is a way to restart X without restarting the whole computer, but I am a noob and my computer restart really fast anyway) and now I could use the Nvidia control panel to set the resolution. Oops. The settings did not stick, I had to svae them. OK, no problem, click on the "save configuration" button. Nope, could not save the file. Again, I had to go to the terminal and do sudo nvidia-settings in order to run the settings program as root. Why even add it to the menu then, when it can’t be used from there? Well, let’s be clever and change the rights to xorg.conf using chmod.


Anyway, I changed the resolution, restarted, and… WFT? Just aconsole login prompt? OK, something is wrong… Did I corrupt xorg.conf like I did before? I tried all different ways of cleaning it, creating a new blank one, etc. The easiset way for me to do this was to boot using the Live CD, mount my hardddisk and use sudo gedit to edit xorg.conf on my drive.

Spent several hours trying to get this fixed. Finally I realized the problem. When I changed the rights, I had modified all the files in the /etc/X11 directory using chmod 666 *. You probably spot the problem. Yes, I had removed the execution flag for X. So sudo chmod 777 X and restart, all set! I told you I was a noob! 🙂


Finally I was all set, running two monitorsin 1280×1024 side-by-side. I installed VMware, imported a (clean) Windows XP virtual machine I had built earlier and made sure it was fully patched and thateverything worked: networking, sound, etc.

I connected the other drives, mounted them and made sure I could read them. No problems. I then figured out how to mount them permanently, so they were available after each startup.I set them up as VMware shared drives as well, so my guest operating systems could map to the drives. Now I was pretty much done with the OS install.


I created a clone of the Windows XP VM and designated it forimage and video editing. I installed Photoshop, Nero, Sony Vegas and DVD Architect, as well as DVDshrink, Divx 6 and a few other utilitiesI use. No problem there this far. Tonight I plan to do some final testing to make sure I can render movies correctly.


The nextstep is to build another VMfor development tools. Might even do separate ones for Visual Studio Express and Eclipse, not decided that yet. And of course one for Notes 8.5.1, where I can install Domino Designer and Administrator.

I plan to install the Notes 8.5.1 klient in Ubuntu as well.


There are some issues with Ubuntu, as I see it. Mainly issues with it not being as user friendly as Windows. Right-click and "run as root" would make sense, for example. I understand that Ubuntu have a concept of "restricted" drivers, i.e. "non-free" drivers, and that is why the Nvidia drivers are not installed automatically. But it is still annoying. And if I want later versions of the driver (version 185 is included as a restricted driver, while Nvidia have version 190 on their site), it is even more complicated:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nvidia-vdpau/ppa
sudo apt-key adv –keyserver –recv-keys CEC06767
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nvidia-190-modaliases nvidia-glx-190 nvidia-settings-190

All this from the command line, of course.
Sure, Ubuntu is very powerful and safe, but it is still missingquite a few of the features that make Windows so popular and easy to use. I am not bashing Ubuntu (or Linux overall), just stating the facts as I see them. I am (this far) happy with Ubuntu on my computer, it start faster than Windows (much faster than the almost1 year old installation I had running until Friday), and have the equivialent to many of the programs I use on a daily basis.


I will come back with a report in a few days when I have everything installed, configured and have had some more time to test drive the whole system.

Update: This entry somehow got corrupted. Thanks to Chris Whisonant, he helped me by deleting it last night so I could restore it this morning. Sorry if you tried to read it while it was missing.



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