The Penguin and the Rusty Wrench

Day 2 of installing Ubuntu Linux 7.04 on my brother’s Toshiba Satellite 2410 laptop. I have done this before, but boy is this irritating. I mistakingly took the wrong approach of installing all the applications that he would need/want before doing a thorough hardware check.

So after I ran into the infamous “poltergeist” problem of starting X, and I then trashed the install with a poor reinstall of the nvidia-glx/nvidia kernel. I did the same thing to my main machine by accident, but I don’t have the luxury of a reinstall so I am running that on the open source, non-3d accelerated nv driver. Better this then nothing (no more Quake 4 until I fix this). Boy, I am getting rusty on with my installs and configuration. (I used to run Gentoo and be better at this stuff.)

Getting back to the laptop, I did a reinstall and re-enabled the proprietary nvidia drivers. And got the poltergeisty blinking LCD screen. In the old days, a simple Option IgnoreEDID fixed this problem. Well nVidia, kindly updated their drivers to ignore this option. So now the problem needs to be fixed in a proper hacker way.

Fortunately this post in the Ubuntu forums helps:
along with this:
Note that this solution is hardly user-friendly. But then again configuring a Linux install, is the equivalent work of what an OEM or a highly-paid system administrator does. Here are the steps for the desperate:

  1. Open up /etc/X11/xorg.conf with your favorite command-line text editor. I chose my weapon of choice: vi.
  2. Add the line Option “UseDisplayDevice” “DFP-0” to the Device section.
  3. Save the file.
  4. Run sudo /etc/init.d/kdm restart (or gdm depending on your GUI login manager). This will restart X, at 800×600 resolution. This we will fix soon too.
  5. Login into your account under X.
  6. You will need a hexeditor also: I use khexeditor. So install that if you need to: sudo aptitude install khexeditor
  7. Run nvidia-settings. Now we follow the steps in the second link.
  8. Click on DFP-0 and Aquire EDID.
  9. Save the resulting edid.bin file.
  10. Exit nvidia-settings, and open up the edid.bin file in your hex editor.
  11. Edit the file as such: change the value in row 4, column 9 from c9 to 00. And change the value in row 4, column 11 from 31 to 41. (Refer to the second link for clarification.)
  12. Save the file under a different name. I called mine: edid-fixed.bin
  13. Now copy this file somewhere it can not be touched by an ordinary user. I copied mine to /.
  14. Now open up /etc/X11/xorg.conf and add the line: Option “CustomEDID” “DFP-0:/edid-fixed.bin” to the Device section. Just replace the path to whatever you saved the fixed edid file.
  15. Restart kdm as before. Enjoy your fixed, 3d accelerated desktop.

Now with that done, all I needed to do was configure my wireless card to connect to my wireless network. A simple point-and-click wizard thanks to NetworkManager. So there you have it, a working install of Ubuntu Linux 7.04 on a Toshiba Satellite 2410.

Installing Kubuntu On a New Dell Desktop

Well its been a while… since I last blogged that is. Life has been more or less alright. A number of things happened in between that time so I will spend sometime on each of the major events: installing Linux on a new desktop, impressions of my courses, impressions about Scheme (which sort of relates to my courses), the Datasphere work-study saga, the madness of acquaintances, and general lack of girl friend and major events (hey, I need to bitch about something)

I recently got a new machine, so like any real technophile (or more accurately gadgets-techs-and-other-toys-lover or simply a normal guy) I totally went nuts the day I got it. A few weeks ago I ordered a brand-new spanking Dell Dimension 9150 with a 19″ UltraSharp LCD thrown in. Naturally the morning it arrived I was on a tech-driven high. The poor Puralator guy must of thought I was nuts, bouncing all over the place. But hey, its not everyday is a Christmas equivalent, and the delivery guy basically became a Santa Claus. 😉 A few minutes later of forced calmness, I managed to drag my new toy upstairs and get it setup. The rest of the day was spent either installing stuff, or doing random chores and putting the machine through its paces. I must say that I was impressed with the machine in general, and strangely enough I enjoyed playing around with Windows XP Media Centre which I found to be very well polished and thought out for the most part.

Ater a tiny bit (read as days) playing around with Windows XP Media Centre, I got into installing Linux. All I can say to that is that one I’m a Linux junkie, and second that the target machine is a desktop, hardware issues would be less of an issue. Or so I thought. Fortunately for me I did a bit of research before deciding what kind of a machine to get (and kind of hardware it would contain). Hence the presence of a nVidia card (sorry ATi you maybe Canadian but your support is below par :(), the Intel integrated sound card (I’m not too serious in the music production scene… yet), and the Intel e1000 based network card. This time while having a much more agile machine, I decided against going with Gentoo. Simply I got tired of all the hassle of baby-sitting the system, and dealing with a never-ending stream of updates. So I decided to try out Ubuntu to see what all the fuss was about. Specifically I chose KUbuntu, since I prefer the more polished KDE over over-simplified Gnome. The installation went without a hitch, except for the network card. Aparently I have the latest generation of Intel’s Pro 100/1000 Ethernet cards, and the e1000 driver that comes with most Linux kernels was too old. Intel preceiving this released the source code for an updated e1000 kernel module. Since I was new to Ubuntu and Debian-style distributions in general, so kernel source recompilation was out of the question. I switched back to Gentoo for about two weeks. During that time I found that some compiled and posted the module for the Ubuntu. So I reinstalled Ubuntu, and I have stuck with it since.

My intial feelings about Ubuntu are positive. The distribution packaging system is based in the rock-solid apt build system (which mirrors Gentoo’s Portage), and has a decent number of packages available right of the bat. The hardware detection and setup is very well done, and I appreciate the dbus-hal-ivman automounting functionality (even thought the automatic starting of Kaffeine player when plopped in a DVD is a bit unnerving). The idea of doing sudo for everything that would normally require su-ing in as root is an excellent idea. In a matter of a day I had pretty much everything I needed to run a full scale development box. I even found this neat blogging utility that I am using now called BloGTK. All I need to figure out is a few minor issues such as DVD copying. I hope to get comfortable with compiling kernels under Ubuntu too, so that I can peacifully upgrade to any newer kernel (or slightly tweaked one), and still keep my Ethernet functionality working. Overall, I am greatly surprised how easy it is easy to install and administer a Linux computer nowadays. I think the open source community has gone a long way to making Linux a viable desktop option. I still can remember the fun and games of installing older versions of Mandrake, and SuSE on an older machine and my laptop a few years ago. You want X running on your laptop back then? Good luck. And you want to use your funky-dory nVidia card for 3d accelerated graphics??? Under X??? Dream on. Fortunately those days and experiences maybe numbered. That is all on the topic of new desktops and installing Linux.

Err… remember that I would write about more stuff earlier on? Well I guess I lied. I will continue on later tomorrow. Night.