Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ubuntu 7.04 Final Boots Gateway M685 Notebook Successfully

Let me start this entry by showing a simple screen capture of Ubuntu 7.04 running on my Gateway M685.

All I had to do this time was drop the Ubuntu CDROM in the DVD drive, reboot the notebook, and wait for Ubuntu to start up. It was as smooth as proverbial silk. Here's a quick rundown of what I was able to initially check out about 7.04 running on the Gateway.
  • Screen: The good news is that it booted and used the screen. Every pre-release version of 7.04 before this final release had screen issues; the screen booted up black and disabled. But this time It Just Worked. The bad news is that its resolution is limited to 1024 by 768. This is No Big Deal. All I have to do to fix this is install 7.04 and then install the nVidia drivers to enable the built-in Go 7800's hardware capabilities (including 1680 x 1050 resolution). I've had to do this with every release of Suse. It's No Big Deal.
  • Network: 7.04 detected and allowed me to connect to my home wireless network without any other special manipulation of the distribution. Talk about load-and-go. Wireless networking works out-of-the-box with the built-in wireless hardware hardware using the included ipw3945 driver. Suse was only able to do this after installation. The Live Suse DVD does not do this.
  • Hard drive: Ubuntu out-of-the-box detects and accesses the notebook's SATA drive. Further, it mounts the NTFS partitions from the Windows XP side. In fact it sees all the existing partitions, Windows and Linux (Suse 10.1). The ability to at least mount and see NTFS is a feature that comes standard with Suse but must be added to Fedora Core all the way up to version 6. That hide-bound unwillingness of Fedora Core to support NTFS immediately after installation was one of the prime reasons for me to abandon it. Hate Windows all you want but co-existence with Windows is at times vital, and NTFS mounting is part of that.
  • USB: Works out-of-the-box. I plugged in one of my USB thumb drives in order to store the desktop images you see here. Suse equals Ubuntu in this area.
  • Sound: Works out-of-the-box. While I doubt I could play any DVDs without installing 7.04 and all the necessary codecs, the ability to hear the boot-up audio is sweet music to my ears. No version of Suse has ever been able to enable sound on this machine.
There is only one very minor quirk so far. The opening greeting page on Firefox says welcome to Ubuntu 6.10. While it has no impact on functionality it does not reflect well from a quality perspective. The help system is correct and identifies this release as Feisty Fawn, Ubuntu 7.04.

I don't have time right now to do a full installation, but I will this weekend. Considering all the experience I've gained on my test machine (rhea) with 7.04, it should take little time for me to install and configure Ubuntu on my notebook. Over OpenSuse 10.1. I've also been downloading the Kubuntu version for testing on my Suse 10.2 system. That should also prove interesting as that's the machine with the older ATI 9700 Pro.

My lowly Gateway may not match what Micheal Dell has for running Ubuntu, but it's still not too shabby. Thanks Ubuntu team.

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