Skip to main content

Ubuntu Linux - What a pleasant surprise

I run both Windows (Professional XP SP2) and Linux (Fedora Core 4, SuSE 9.1) at home. One box runs FC4 all the time, while the Windows box dual boots between Windows and SuSE. I have, however, been less than satisfied of late with Fedora Core, especially FC4. Yes, I know Fedora Core is 'bleeding edge'. I don't mind bleeding edge in areas clearly defined as such, and quirks can be forgiven if usability provided out weights the quirks. But there are enough annoyances in FC4 in many areas that shouldn't have quirks that I've started looking around for a replacement distribution on the all-Linux machine. Thus my willingness to try various distributions, such as Ubuntu 5.04.

Ubuntu is available on the web in CD-ROM and DVD-ROM format. I decided to download the DVD ISO and burn a DVD for testing. The DVD is available only via torrent, so I snagged a copy of Azureus, the Java BitTorrent client. I first Azureus to grab NASA's World Wind client, and I've been hooked on Azureus ever since. Azureus is interesting for another reason; it uses the Eclipse Rich Client Platform. Once I had the Ubuntu DVD ISO, I burned it to DVD and popped it into my notebook.

My notebook is a Gateway M680 with Windows Professional SP2 installed. It's unique in a number of ways. One feature of note is the video subsystem. It's built with ATI's X700 mobile video card. The Gateway also comes with a 17" display, and the display though the ATI card and driver is set to 1680 x 1050 pixel resolution. It also has Microsoft's ClearType enabled. The overall effect is beautiful to view as well as very easy to read, especially with my bad eyesight. I want to boot Ubuntu DVD just to see how well it handles the display. ATI video cards are a bear to get right under Linux, and I want to see what the out-of-the-box experience is like.

But before I could do that I needed to pop the Ubuntu DVD into the Gateway's drive. And when I did that I got another pleasant surprise. Windows found and ran the Ubuntu browser. The Ubuntu browser is a lot like the OpenCD browser in that it allows the installation of free and open software on Windows. The Ubuntu browser even has a link to the OpenCD and explains that the Ubuntu collection is a sub-set of the software found on the OpenCD collection.

The Ubuntu browser is well laid out, and allows the user to read about the various applications available for installation. I particularly like the screen shot galleries for each application. Over all the Ubuntu Windows browser is very professionally done. I have yet to boot the Gateway into Ubuntu, but if the Windows browser is any indication then I look forward to a pleasant and professional experience on the notebook as well as my home Linux system.


Ubuntu didn't boot into the GUI on the Gateway. The reason is the lack of a default ATI driver for the video chipset. I'll sure give it lots of points for trying, though. The configuration file had an entry for the Radeon Mobility X700 (RV410) chip, and it let me try to run at 1680 x 1050 resolution. I'll be booting Ubuntu (or more precisely, Kubuntu when its torrent download finishes) on the home Linux box tonight, and if the live run finds everything and runs to my satisfaction, then I will replace the Fedora installation with Kubuntu and use that as my working distribution. And since the home box has an older ATI 9600 card, I'll play with adding the ATI driver.

I really do want Linux running on the Gateway, but the Gateway is my work machine provided by my employer and it's not mine to do with as I please. I have no problem making it a dual boot (with Lacey's support), but I have to get real work done. I don't have a lot of time to tweak and fiddle with Linux to make it work as well as Windows. Perhaps as time goes on and I find out more I can install Kubuntu on the Gateway. If that happens I'll post it here.


  1. the problem with the x700 is well known. you'll have to add an option in the xorg.conf (or change the x driver to vesa. but then you won't have acceleration etc)

  2. Not well known enough. Do you have a link to this "well known problem" and any possible resolutions? Besides, this is old history now. I have 2D and 3D acceleration with the current ATI driver, thank you very much.


Post a Comment

All comments are checked. Comment SPAM will be blocked and deleted.

Popular posts from this blog

A Decade Long Religious Con Job

I rarely write inflammatory (what some might call trolling) titles to a post, but this building you see before you deserves it. I've been seeing this building next to I-4 just east of Altamonte/436 and Crane's Roost for nearly 12 years, and never knew who owned it. Today on a trip up to Lake Mary with my wife I saw it yet again. That's when I told her I wanted to stop by on the way back and poke around the property, and photograph any parts of it if I could.

What I discovered was this still unfinished eighteen story (I counted) white elephant, overgrown with weeds and yet still under slow-motion construction. It looks impressive with its exterior glass curtain walls, but that impression is quickly lost when you see the unfinished lower stories and look inside to the unfinished interior spaces.

A quick check via Google leads to an article written in 2010 by the Orlando Sentinel about the Majesty Tower. Based on what I read in the article it's owned by SuperChannel 55 WA…

Be Careful of Capital One Mailings

Capitol One ("What's in your wallet?") sent me a bit of deceptive snail mail today. I felt sure it was a credit card offer, and sure enough, it was. I open all credit card offers and shred them before putting them in the trash. Normally I just scan the front to make sure I don't miss anything; the Capital One offer made me stop for a moment and strike a bit of fear into my heart.

The letter's opening sentence read:
Our records as of December 30, 2009 indicate your Capital One Platinum MasterCard offer is currently valid and active.Not paying close attention during the first reading, I quickly developed this irrational worry that I was actually on the hook for something important, but I wasn't quite sure what. The letter listed "three ways to reply" at the bottom; via phone, the internet, and regular snail mail. I elected to call.

Once I reached the automated phone response system, the first entry offered was '1', to "activate my Capital …

cat-in-a-box channels greta garbo

So I'm sitting at my computer, when I start to notice a racket in back. I ignore it for a while until I hear a load "thump!", as if something had been dropped on the floor, followed by a lot of loud rattling. I turn around and see Lucy in the box just having a grand old time, rolling around and rattling that box a good one. I grab the GX1 and snap a few shots before she notices me and the camera, then leaps out and back into her chair (which used to be my chair before she decided it was her chair).

Just like caring for Katie my black Lab taught me about dogs, caring for Lucy is teaching me about cats. She finds me fascinating, as I do her. And she expresses great affection and love toward me without coaxing. I try to return the affection and love, but she is a cat, and she takes a bat at me on occasion, although I think that's just her being playful. She always has her claws in when she does that.

She sits next to me during the evening in her chair while I sit in mi…