Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Some links on USB palm devices and Ubuntu / Linux here and here.

Ubuntu artwork; here and here.

Monday, December 20, 2004

(:^ 10 things to do with a live linux cd

Codeweavers CrossOver Office now offers support for iTunes on Linux (although CD burning doesn't work).
The alternative is the new Mindawn service, but I am a major user of iTunes on my Macs :) - I wonder if sharing will work?.......

So, I've been playing with Ubuntu on an old Compaq Presario 305 laptop. This is an old "sub-notebook" featuring a Celeron 333MHz CPU and 128MB RAM. Mine has a 6GB HDD. The floppy and CD-ROM drives are in a "Mobile Expansion Unit", which is a base that doubles the thickness of the notebook, but can be removed when not in use.
I just wanted to summarise my experience here:
First I downloaded the iso image for Ubuntu "Warty Warthog" and burned it to a CD.
Next, I plugged the Presario into it's base "Mobile Expansion Unit" and connected mains power.
Then, I inserted a NetGear WG511 wireless PCMCIA 802.11g card in the single PCMCIA slot.
Next, I booted the laptop from the Ubuntu CD.
The Ubuntu text-based installer then ran. This is from memory, so it's not a "howto", but the installer asked for normal, simple information such as hostname, user information, time, date, regional settings and then, to my great surprise and pleasure, the ESSID and WEP key for my wireless network! :)
Ubuntu then proceeded to install, and seemed to use the wireless connection to retrieve some packages.
Following the install process (about half an hour to 45 minutes, I'd say), an "install complete" message appeared, and when I clicked "OK", Ubuntu loaded to the GDM login screen!
When I then logged in, it became apparent that sound was working, as I was greeted with the lovely Ubuntu login chime.
This (in my experience) is a fantastic result with Linux on a notebook - I have always had to fight with something in the past, but Ubuntu got it almost all right automatically. Also, the Gnome UI is well done - simple, attractive and effective. It works fine on this old notebook (although I am restricted to 800x600 by the old TFT).

Anyway, the only issues I had were that the battery meter didn't work, and the laptop did not actually power down on shutdown - I was just left at the command line with the "Power Down" message and had to hit the button myself.
This turned out to be no great shakes to fix - to get both working, I just followed bsherman's forum advice and disabled ACPI (which wasn't loading anyway) and enabled APM, as follows:

Here is a much simpler way to switch to using APM.

Edit your boot config using this command:
sudo nano /boot/grub/menu.lst

You'll want to change the kernel line to add the items in red.
kernel /vmlinuz- root=/dev/hda4 ro quiet splash acpi=off noacpi

In order to make sure this change propegates to future kernel upgrades, you'll also want to edit the default lines:
## You can have ONLY one nonaltoptions line
# nonaltoptions=quiet splash acpi=off noacpi

CTRL-X to save, and your boot config is updated.
One last thing, ensure you load the apm module.

sudo nano /etc/modules

Simple add a new line with the module name "apm":


Reboot, and you're running APM, not ACPI.

So, I now have a Presario 305 running Ubuntu :)

As another note, when I attached my Fuji digital camera via USB, Ubuntu recognised that there were pictures on the attached device and asked if I wanted to import them - another gold star for Ubuntu!

Also, note that Ubuntu doesn't offer root login anywhere - you are not even prompted for a root password at any point IIRC. This is a good thing - root access is available via sudo or a special system utility in the GUI which is a root terminal. In order to open the root termiinal or to perform other O/S management tasks, you are prompted for your password. This is very much like Mac OS X, and I think it's a fine way to manage things in a desktop environment that might be used by non-geeks.

Finally, I use Debian on other machines, and the traditional apt-get commands work just fine for system updates.

All in all, I would have to say that Ubuntu is the most user-friendly Linux distro I have tried. I am very impressed with the installation and hardware detection, the GUI is clean and manageable (even for non-techies, I would say), and best of all, it's based on Debian and is free. I will certainly be using Ubuntu whenever I need a Linux desktop/workstation from now on - full marks!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Ubuntu Linux Forums - Using APM instead of ACPI? - this sorted me out on my old Presario 305, as the battery meter wasn't working.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Matthew Revell: Automatic shutdown in Ubuntu - top tip.
Ubuntu still rocks, though.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Ubuntu Linux Forums - Disable trackpad tapping.
I gotta tell ya though - this is my only complaint about Ubuntu on my old laptop. All hardware, including wireless, was detected and configured beautifully. And it's based on Debian.
In short, Ubuntu rocks!!.