Computer Bob's Attic

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Linux On Laptops

You can read notes on these OS versions and hardware

LWN DISTRIBUTION LIST

While looking for something else altogether (the best way to find anything!) I found The LWN.net Linux Distribution List an extremely comprehensive listing with descriptions of Linux distributions. Enjoy!

WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR IN A LINUX DISTRIBUTION

Based on my experience using SunOS and Solaris while working at Sun Microsystems, a Unix development system at National Semiconductor's Datachecker Division, and other less sane operating systems since 1974 there are a few (!) things I want in the OS I use.

UBUNTU ROADMAPS

Here are quick references to Ubuntu's schedule (if broken use this) and downloads These should ease determining which version to use and where to get it.

See distrowatch's reviews and summaries of Linux distributions.

One way to determine your Ubuntu version:
lsb_release -cd

UBUNTU MATE 15.04 & LinuxMint Mate 17.1 Releases

April 2015

These are my current best candidates to replace Ubuntu 10.04. I have been running both in emulators, and LinuxMint Mate 17.1 on an ASUS laptop.

I have observed a peculiarity using OpenOffice 1.1.5 on both of these OS's running in emulators: a freshly opened spreadsheet does not display on the screen the contents of all cells until the mouse has been moved over the "empty" cells. Furthermore, some contents of pop-up menus do not display until the mouse has moved over the locations. In LinuxMint Mate 17.1 on the ASUS laptop these work correctly.

In UBUNTU MATE 15.04 and LinuxMint Mate 17.1 running LibreOffice 4.4.2.2 in an emulator the spreadsheet displays correctly

In LinuxMint Mate 17.1 the "native" mintupdate and the traditional update-manager appear to not draw from the same repositories. Usually after using either to run an update the other will have a few more items.

After installing each of these distributions into an emulator I attempted my usual procedure to copy in my $HOME directory and the /home/linux directory, which is to tar -czf each to a file in /tmp, copy each to the emulator's /tmp, then un-tar. Unfortunately the $HOME tarball exceeds 4GB and would not transfer, at least by ftp. /home/linux appeared to transfer OK, but un-tarring would immediately quit with errors. Attempting to copy the directories directly with gftp started OK, but would multiple times lose connection or quit on error. Inspecting the resultant copy of $HOME revealed that no files had been copied and most of the directories were empty! I had never before seen gftp misbehave this way! Behavior repeats regardless of whether gftp ran on the "real" computer or the emulator.

I have since achieved success by using a tar-to-tar transfer to an external disk from the "real" machine to an external disk, than a second tar-to-tar transfer to the emulator. Slightly cumbersome, but it works. In principle mounting the "real" directories to the emulator, if possible, would work. It's also possible to do a tar-to-tar transfer between machines (this requires a passwordless login on the (usually) receiving machine). I did this once in Sun SysAdmin school decades ago...

UBUNTU 13.04 & 13.10, 14.04 & 14.10 Releases

December 2014

Generally same reaction as to 12.xx.
IF I were to use this version it would definitely be with the KDE UI.
The gnome UI has far too much icon scrolling instead of the former menu tree. I recommend the same repairs as for 11.10 below, except try kdebase-workspace instead of gnome. In 13.04 I did find synaptic in Ubuntu Software center, installed it and continued to use it.
I have discovered that Ubuntu Software center cannot find kernel updates by kernel version, which synaptic can. This is a useful tool for cleaning old kernels out of /boot.

I've a solution which works for me, YMMV:

  1. Continue with 10.04.4 LTS Desktop as long as I'm satisfied with updates. Though this EOL'd 9 May 2013 I still get kernel and occasional other updates through at least April 2015. I have not yet needed to go to the next step:
  2. Re-install using 10.04.4 LTS Server, which EOLs April 2015. The purpose of retaining 10.04.4 LTS is to keep the older gnome UI, which I like. Following a server install, which of course has no graphical UI, the following commands remedy this situation:

    sudo apt-get install gnome
    installs the missing UI. Should this install the NEW gnome UI, then re-install (to get a clean system) and use the command:

    sudo apt-get install kde-full

    Whichever of these works for you, then also give the commands:
    sudo apt-get install update-manager
    sudo apt-get install synaptic

    Then reboot to start the window manager, and apply the augmentations described in the "UBUNTU" menu button (above).
  3. After 10.04.4 LTS Server EOLs re-install a current server version and apply the above setups. I keep tabs on the results by installing into VMware emulators so I can evaluate the proposed systems at no risk to my working one.

UBUNTU 12.10 Release, 18 Oct 2012

Same reaction to 12.10 as to 12.04.
Kubuntu has less to correct, but Debian is much better than any Ubuntu since 10.04.
I recommend the same repairs as for 11.10 below, except try kdebase-workspace instead of gnome. Since I couldn't readily find synaptic in Ubuntu Software center, I used the command line:
sudo apt-get install synaptic
to shorten the process.

I'm testing 12.10 in the same VMware emulator which i used for 12.10 Beta. The release seems much slower. Installing VMware tools appears to hang. Without tools installed the emulated desktop cannot be resized from 600x800px.

VMware Tools
VMware tools will not install into Ubuntu 12.10. This is in part because the location of autoconf.h has changed in the kernel sources from the expected:
/usr/src/linux-headers-<version>-generic/include/linux/autoconf.h
to (approximately):
/usr/src/linux-headers-<version>-generic/include/generated/autoconf.h
Installing a link allowed compilation to succeed, but the overall installation failed due to X-driver incompatibility.

Debian 6.0.6 in the same emulator seems much better... VMware tools install correctly into Debian.

VirtualBox
Mouse copy and paste across box boundary both fail in VirtualBox for both Debian and Ubuntu.

UBUNTU 12.04 Release, 29 April 2012

While I can see the default UI may be friendly to Windows users, I still detest the default interface. Surprisingly the gnome UI lacks many tools and utilities formerly provided. Even more surprisingly, for the first time in years I like KDE's toolset better than gnome's. However, I'm likely to shift to Debian after 10.04.4 LTS expires. Here is a summary I gave at the 4 June 2012 meeting of SVUGA's BIY SIG.
I recommend the same repairs as for 11.10 below, except try kdebase-workspace instead of gnome.

UBUNTU 11.10 Release, 29 October 2011

This installed and runs on the WinBook.

How to Repair UBUNTU 11.10 Release

  1. Install synaptic package manager immediately.
  2. Using the freshly installed synaptic package manager install the gnome package, accepting all dependencies. This will install everything you need to have a gnome display manager (gdm) and tools.
    (How to launch the freshly installed synaptic? Click the "Dash Home" icon, type "synaptic" in the search field, and finally press "Enter".)
  3. Reboot the machine so gdm will become available at the login screen.
  4. Select your preferred gnome environment and log in.

Remaining Comments

This observation is from a comment to A weekend with Kubuntu

Mandrake, Mandriva, PCLinuxOS, and now Mageia - all from the original Mandrake family, generally install and work well, but just about any Debian-based distribution, especially one not choked with a lot of extra background daemon processes (and by default, most do NOT come that way), run circles around the *Drake derivatives, not because the others are bad or deficient in any way, but because they do tend to deploy a "kitchen sink" approach; when in doubt, include it and turn it on, and as a result, they tend to be less efficient in their operation than Debian-based systems, but a bit more likely to "just work" for the less astute installer and user

See this thorough review at Dedoimedo

Ubuntu provides a tour which allows some experimentation without downloading and installing.

Summary conclusion, with observations below, is that the Unity display manager is suitable for users who want to do only wnat is allowed by launchers you can find, somewhat like the Macintosh desktop. If you want to customise anything, you're in for a battle...

I highly recommend installing synaptic package manager immediately. The default package manager attempts to install each package as selected, instead of building a list to apply later as does synaptic. One consequence of the default's behavior is you never know what's actually installed. If an installation hangs for any reason, or needs operator attention, you may never know it. Eventually I did find a status list, which indeed was hung at some step after I had spent an hour or so selecting packages to add. Selection took so long because of the delay after each selection before the next package could be selected.

How to launch the freshly installed synaptic? Initially, click the "Dash Home" icon, then type "synaptic" in the search field. This appears to be a general way to launch a program, though the "Dash Home" pop-up has icons in it which can be further navigated.

How to install a new launcher? Drag the icon to the bar at the left of the screen. But what happens after the bar fills up? Also, there is no opportinity to customize such a launcher.

Install launcher on the desktop? I tried this with an X-term icon. It produced an icon which launched only a pop-up warning of an untrusted application, whith no way to either run the app or adjust the trusted attribute, wherever that is. Furthermore, properties for this launcher are owned by root, thus cannot be changed by the owner who created it. This icon is a link, which is why properties cannot be changed. Thus NO customization can be done on a launcher created this way, even if it would launch something.

UBUNTU 11.10 Beta 2, 24 September 2011

From the distribution CD:
Ubuntu version boots OK on WinBook 245, and I still don't like the desktop. Because the WinBook worked I haven't tried Beta@ on the large Fujitsu "laptop".
Kubuntu version boots OK on WinBook 245. Currently I'm installing it so I can try desktops KDE and Gnome.

Ubuntu runs with a few crashes. The Logout Helper which is supposed to appear at the upper right of the screen usually disappears. I think this is one of the crashes. With this gone, there is no choice (in software) to log out, Switch User is the closest option. After switching user, the resulting screen offers a shutdown option which doesn't shutdown. 4 seconds on the power button forces shutdown, and the system recovers OK.
I stumbled on a package updater which seemed to work.
Adding packages is slow and not obviously successful. Unlike the checklist and batch add paradigm of Synaptic, 11.10 presents decorated lists of packages each with an Install button, some of which have options to select additions. It appears to be possible to click an Install button and move on to the next package. This is MUCH slower than was Synaptic.
The package list can be searched, so I added as many Gnome packages as looked related to the UI. Eventually Gnome choices appeared at the top right of the login pop-up, but selecting them produced only a TTY screen, not the expected GUI.

Abandon Ubuntu and try Kubuntu...
Selecting Install from the post-boot pop-up resulted in the installer crashing before completing the manual partition choices. The system then booted into Try mode. Selecting Install from this succeeded. Currently running an initial Full Upgrade on 120 packages which has succeeded! Next try the usual customizations...

WHOOPS! muon package manager hung during an update and couldn't be shut down with mouse controls. (I should have tried kill -9 on it...) Killed the system with the power button. Now updates fail with a message that "Another application seems to be using the package system...".
http://kubuntuforums.net/forums/index.php?topic=3114869.0;wap2 suggested running from a command line: sudo apt-get install -f
This failed, suggesting to run: dpkg --configure -a
This did not clear the problem.
See also: http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.comp.kde.bugs/467293

UBUNTU 11.10 Beta 1, 8 September 2011

From the distribution CD:
Ubuntu version boots to black screen on WinBook 245. Ubuntu version boots OK and runs on large Fujitsu, but I don't like the desktop.
Kubuntu version boots OK on WinBook 245. Currently I'm installing it so I can try desktops KDE and Gnome.

Kubuntu installs OK, but then the fun starts. It repeatedly makes a core dump during the first attempt to log in. This leads to installing some debugging libraries to build a better bug report, about a hour's worth of downloading. This can be ignored, consequences unknown.

Attempting to do an update immediately after installation downloads about 330 packages. Committing changes hangs at about 18-20% complete. The system will then refuse to reboot using normal controls. Forcing the system off with the power switch, then rebooting left the network disconnected. From this state a fresh install is required...

Un-checked install time options for 3rd party S/W, etc., then installed updates a "few" at a time. Several of these hung, one at least could be stopped with "kill -9 <package manager>". Unfortunately last hang required power switch, and again left network disconnected.

Repeat ad infinitum? ..No, Abandon... Look for beta 2?

UBUNTU 11.04 Release, 28 April 2011

Support for this one expires before 10.04 LTS, so I'm not too concerned with it.

I've tried Alpha, Beta, and Release versions of this Ubuntu on WinBook and Fujitsu N6470. This report is for Release. On the WinBook the Install / Welcome splash screen never appears, only an unending stream of what looks like kernel messages which can be controlled only by shutting off power. (Same behavior Alpha through Release... bummer!)

On the Fujitsu the Install / Welcome window appears. Clicking "Try Ubuntu" causes nothing whatever to happen, which is a minor improvement from Beta2's behavior of the screen goes black, an arrow mouse cursor appears which can be moved by the mouse, and no other response to any controls other than the power off button.

This release is useless to me.

DEBIAN 6.0.1 Release, 29 April 2011

Following the "success" of Ubuntu 11.04 described above, tried a Live DVD image of Debian version identified above. On the WinBook this boots normally until the gnome desktop appears- then there's no mouse cursor. On the Fujitsu N6470 it appears to boot correctly, mouse cursor and all.

UBUNTU 10.10 release, 10 October 2010

WinBook is my primary target for 10.10, for which support expires April 2012. Support for 10.04 Desktop lasts to April 2013. 10.10 correctly handles WinBook's display, so is useable. The most annoying feature of 10.10 is a kernel module kslow whose only apparent effect is to drive a high priority interrupt into the OS every approximately 10 seconds. This has been reported by a few people as making mouse movement "sticky". While this is true and may appear to be minor, the interrupt also acts on other data streams, such as audio streaming from the network and DVD Video playback. Curiously, CD playback by xmcd appears to be unaffected. Even more curious is that xmcd produces audible sound on the WinBook since it doesn't on the Fujitsu N6470 running 10.04.

A quick check of kslow on the Fujitsu N6470 booted in trial mode from the 10.10 CD showed no interference to an Internet audio stream.

In summary an "OK" release, but evaluate the effect of kslow on what you want to do, and ignore 10.10 if kslow interferes or until it's misbehavior is cured.

UBUNTU 10.04 release, 29 April - 16 June 2010

ASUS Eee PC 1005HA must use the "Netbook remix" variant. The "regular" version lacks Ethernet drivers, the Netbook version has them. All else appears to be working correctly on the Netbook, including Open Office, VMware 7.x, CD playing using VLC, and DVD movies. While the "Netbook special" desktop is an interesting solution, inability to add to "Favorites" is a serious handicap. Fortunately a traditional Gnome UI can be selected.

May 2010: Have tested and installed 10.04 on the Fujitsu Laptop. I will be installing it on all machines except the WinBook over the next few weeks. Crucial to acceptance was compatibility testing with VMware 7.x. This new VMware version installs under Ubuntu 9.04 and 10.04, and runs on all except the WinBook.

Release candidate and released version will not boot on the WinBook W245, even using boot parameters "vga=771" or "-vesa", so no further testing on this machine. The Beta version booted OK, however!

Kernel Version Testing has been extended to the Fujitsu Laptop from the WinBook. The kernel offered after 2.6.32-19 would not run the WinBook's screen at 1280x768 and thus appeared to not boot completely. Since there was also no response to any keystrokes this appeared to be what happened. It would run the screen at 1024x768, however after a "recovery" boot. The problem appears to definitely be kernel related, since reverting to 2.6.32-19-generic restored correct operation.
Oh yes: to enter the grub menu at boot time it's now Shift, not Esc!

DVD's w32codec could not be installed, it requires libstdc++5 but only libstdc++6 is offered. This appears to relate to version information, since the installer balked. Linking libstdc++5 to libstdc++6 unfortunately won't help, since the dependency checker won't see this.

There IS a work-around for the codecs: Download the tarball instead of the .deb file! See my notes in the VIDEO section of Ubuntu installation notes.

VMware VMware 6.x will not install under Ubuntu 10.04. VMware 7.x will install but not run on the WinBook due to hardware limitations (related I think to multi-threading). So ultimately the WinBook will not migrate past 9.04.

General Overall 10.04 is less traumatic than 9.10, though I don't like the colors.

WinBook Alternatives, May 2010

At the suggestion of a SPAUG member, I tried Mandriva and Linux Mint on the WinBook. Mandriva is .rpm based, and primarily reminded me, with its missing packages, why I abandoned SuSE years ago. Linux Mint was slightly more interesting, as it is a derivation from Ubuntu. It could be coerced into booting the WinBook with a 1024x768 screen. A 1280x2024 monitor could also be selected. Unfortunately the WinBook is 1280x768, and there is no selection for this size. I'll keep Mint in mind if Ubuntu 9.04 becomes unusable.

UBUNTU 9.10 release, 30 Oct - 12 Nov 2009

As an aside, I tried installing Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) beta 64 bit version on the Fujitsu Notebook. Several key applications either did not install (Open Office 1.1.5) or did not run (Adobe Reader, Real Player). End of 64 Bit experiment.

INITIALLY 9.10 IS ASOCIAL

By default the ability of remote machines to open windows on a 9.10 machine is crippled. This renders remote operation of gvim, VMware, and Xdos, for example, impossible.
There does appear to be a way out of this, see the first "OOPS!" in the XSERVER section of ubuntu_install_notes.

Also there is no obvious way to access XDMCP logins in either direction, though a google search will retrieve many attempts to solve these problems.

gvim produces gtk error messages which can be suppressed by starting gvim (or gview) with an alias which streams errors to /dev/null.

VMware requires at least version 7.0.0, and thus pay up for a new license, to install on 9.10. Unfortunately on the WinBook 7.0.0 will not start after installing, presenting an error message: NB: "PAE" is Physical Address Extensions.

"Your processor does not support PAE which is required by VMware workstation. Cannot continue. "

Open Office appears to be OK on the 32 bit version of 9.10.

UBUNTU 9.04 release: 23 - 30 Apr 2009, 28 - 29 May 2009, 23 Jun 2009

First the good news

Now the rest of the news

Epson 4490 scanner, and possibly other models, needs drivers from www.avasys.jp which was not responding in April 2009, but was back to normal in October 2009. See my UBUNTU file for details.

9.04 looks a LOT better 29 May 2009 than it did 30 Apr 2009!

WARNING!! DO NOT REMOVE PACKAGE "network-manager". DOING SO WILL REMOVE THE COMPONENTS WHICH OPERATE YOUR NETWORKS, COMPLETELY ISOLATING YOUR MACHINE FROM THE NETWORK AND ANY FURTHER USE OF SYNAPTIC, I.E. SOFTWARE MAINTENANCE OR UNDOING THIS ERROR!!

WARNING!! DO NOT INSTALL "kwin". DOING SO WILL REMOVE THE GNOME COMPONENTS WHICH OPERATE YOUR NETWORKS, COMPLETELY ISOLATING YOUR MACHINE FROM THE NETWORK AND ANY FURTHER USE OF SYNAPTIC, I.E. SOFTWARE MAINTENANCE!!

"WiFi Radar" looks like it will do the job but I have yet to test it with an accessible WiFi connection.

I have installed VMware in the Gnome U.I., it appears to run correctly.


UBUNTU 8.10 release: 30 Oct - 2 Nov 2008

WinBook's 1280x768 screen cannot be set to higher resolution than 800x600. The "reign" of 915resolution is over. The former technique of starting with 7.04, installing 915resolution, and upgrading from there fails with 8.10.

Results with the Fujitsu N6470 are better, but strange.

  1. Plugging into the headphone jack now cuts off the internal speakers. Formerly this did not.
  2. KDE: KDE4 may be a forced replacement of KDE3 (need to investigate). On starting a KDE4 desktop, ALL former KDE3 launcher icons disappeared! No more "K Menu", it's replaced by an awkward menu navigation system last seen in SuSE. Graphics on the desktop appear to take more room than before. Wallpaper can be selected only from system choices, I didn't see a way to use my own images.
  3. gnome Desktop: Shifting to this, all the former KDE3 launcher icons appeared! Most needed new image selections, and some needed command line revisions.

    Remaining items observed using gnome desktop...
  4. gnome allowed me to supply my own desktop (wallpaper) image.
  5. ALSA Mixer GUI now has only 2 sliders, which suggests much less capability to manage the audio system.
  6. adept: adept_updater and companion notifier have disappeared.
  7. tkremind: reminder launcher no longer works, but it's command still functions on a command line. The companion message no longer appears in its own package, need to install gxmessage to get it.
  8. Real Player: Formerly with KDE3 an entry for this appeared in the "favorites" section of "K Menu", allowing restarting Real Player with all former "files" retained. In particular it retained a web connection to http://wmnr.org/listen.htm which could be re-activated within Real Player. In KDE4 trying to use this capability abends Real Player. I have to make the connection through a browser every time.
  9. Printers Set up the Brother HL-5140 Laser printer OK, though the Foomatic test page was disappointing due to lack of gray-scale graphic and lack of border outlines. /user/bin/foomatic_gui offered only laser printer drivers for the Epson Stylus C88+ ink squirter, and abended with an error message if any of these choices were accepted.
  10. Starting gvim and several other programs which produce gui's elicited an error message that protocols were not available (where have I seen that before??), but seemed to then work OK.
  11. gftp, rup and rstatd all seemed to work normally.
  12. Acrobat Reader: did not appear in packages, but adobe.com has a .deb version.

Bottom line: WinBook cannot use 8.10, and it looks highly undesirable for the Fujitsu.


UBUNTU 8.04 release: 24 - 27 Apr 2008

"Synaptic Package Manager" appears to install by default. On the WinBook laptop when booting from the distribution CD select "F4 Modes", then choose "Safe graphics mode". This will give an 800x600 display on the 1280x768 screen. After installing Ubuntu, use "Synaptic Package Manager" to install "915resolution". This will enable a 1280x768 display.

Unfortunately the following sequence fails 7 Jan 2009: updates to 7.10 appear to no longer be available on the net, though the 7.04 installation and initial update work.

Alternatively I was able to get 8.04 running on the WinBook by starting with a 7.04 boot and install, then upgrading successively to 7.10 and 8.04.

While the sound driver fails in 7.10 it's working again in 8.04 as of 10 July 2008. Possibly one of the updates installed since April 2008 has cured the problem.
(Googling the problem had produced several reports of problems with the Intel sound chip for both 7.10 and 8.04, and several cures, none which worked on WinBook.)

Bottom line: looks like both WinBook and Fujitsu can stay on Ubuntu 8.04.


SuSE 11.0 Beta-2: 8 - 10 May 2008

Based on lack of success trying to migrate the WinBook beyond Ubuntu 7.04 I tried this distribution. The short version is that a direct install once again resulted in no xorg screen display (except booting in safe mode gave an 800x600 screen, no networking, and no conversion to a 1280x768 screen).

Aha! thinks I, lets start over from a clean 10.2 install and install the upgrade from the 11.0 Beta-2 DVD. Oops! This process leaves the pre-existing "/" and "/boot" partitions dangling and disconnected (the installer boots and runs in memory), so it failed.

Try again with a "monolithic" disk layout, no separate "/boot" partition. This sort of works, though failures to update around 20 packages were announced. Ignoring these allowed the update to continue resulting in a working, if uncertain, system with a 1280x768 screen.

OK, lets take a closer look at what's going on. After a bit of digging, the screen control files appear to use a base name of xorg.conf in the directories /etc/X11 and /var/lib/sax. Copy these file sets from the working sequential upgraded system to the clean 11.0 Beta-2 installation. After two attempts to specify the 1280x786 screen using sax2 (through YaST) the desired screen display appeared! Somewhere along the way connection to the speakers disappeared though, and could not be recovered with YaST tools.

The proximate cause of 1280x768 screen display failure appears to be that sax2, or whatever actually generates the xorg.conf files, creates no Modelines for that screen size. In the direct 11.0 Beta-2 installation, of all the xorg.conf* files in /etc/X11 and /var/lib/sax only /var/lib/sax/xorg.conf.first had any lines containing "1280".

A couple of reboots later sound is back! But sax2 starts and does not open. Attempting to start it from a command line results in a suggestion to start as: sax2 -r "if your configuration has changed", so try that. sax2 now starts normally, has monitor and display at 800x600 and display at 1280x768 (WXGA). Change monitor to LCD -> 1280x768@60Hz (which forces display to 1280x768 (WXGA)) and test. Test never recovers to viewable screen, so reboot.

After reboot, sax2 -r starts normally alleging a 800x600 screen and display, apparently its defaults. The screen in which this is displayed is 1280x768, verified by "kruler". Once again changed monitor to LCD -> 1280x768@60Hz but didn't test. Logged out and login splash screen never appeared. Disabled 915resolution line in /etc/init.d/boot.local and rebooted. No xorg display at all. Re-enabled 915resolution line and rebooted. Still no xorg display at all.

Bundled working xorg.conf* files into a tar-ball in the / directory and added a line to /etc/init.d/boot.local to re-install these working files on each boot. This, however crude, works. Sound usually works, but may cut out randomly for no obvious reason. Maybe I'll work on this later...

Next need to test robustness of this approach with another clean install.


Debian 40r3: 6 - 7 Apr 2008

After Ubuntu failed to fully use the WinBook's screen I revisited Debian. This distribution allows 915resolution to correctly handle the screen. New problem: it doesn't operate the sound system on WinBook. Debian also has little support for 3 tools I use: Firefox, Thunderbird, and Java SDK. It substitutes comparable tools with different names and locations, making standardization difficult.

Bottom line: Debian doesn't serve my needs.


UBUNTU 8.04 beta: 2 - 6 Apr 2008

The default package manager NOT "synaptic" is terrible! As soon as possible install "synaptic", which is not installed by default, and use it for all further package management.

8.04 wants to install Firefox 3, which may be OK, but if you were using any extensions they're dead. Reverting to Firefox 2.x is not so easy, since it's now named "firefox-2". You'll need to change any commands which use firefox.

Kubuntu offers a version with KDE4. This works with the WinBook's display if "Safe Mode" is selected. However, I could NOT find a way to get higher screen resolution than 800x600 on a 1280x768 display, so I didn't continue with it. 915resolution detected an incompatible video chip, which is most peculiar since 915resolution works correctly on the WinBook in Ubuntu 7.04.

Kubuntu with KDE3 will not install the Gnome desktop, which has several tools used in setting up the system.

Back to "standard" Ubuntu and try again... Ubuntu can install both Gnome and KDE3, but KDE3 is severely crippled, for instance could not find a way to get screen resolution higher than 1024x768 on the WinBook's 1280x768 screen. Curiously, the Gnome control selection "Applications -> Other -> Screen & Graphics" which appears when running the live CD does not appear in the installed version. This was the ONLY means I found to select 1280x768 on the WinBook. Making this selection produced a virtual screen in which the physical screen could pan, not a satisfactory result. Similarly, in the installed system on the WinBook the selection: "K-Menu -> System Settings, General Tab, Computer Administration" lacks the "Monitor & Display" choice.

On the WinBook the live CD must be started in "Safe" mode to get a working display, which is then 800x600 on a 1280x768 screen. This is a major improvement over 7.10's no screen at all, though there are a few seconds of scrambled screen before the driver settles in. Will 915resolution work it's magic in a full installation? It didn't, as noted above. In the non-KDE4 installations installing 915resolution would prevent the xorg driver from displaying.

CONCLUSION: on the WinBook, Ubuntu 8.04 beta is unusable. Try again with the released version.

On the Fujitsu laptop the live CD correctly detects screen size and installs a driver. Will Audacity work better in the full installation? Yes, it does, though some ALSA libraries need to be loaded to enable connecting Audacity to ALSA Mixer. I need to determine which are actually needed. The "native" xorg driver for ATI Radeon has a much lower CPU load than the proprietary driver needed for Ubuntu 7.10. However, distractions such as moving windows which use a lot of screen update CPU cycles will interrupt audio playback. Haven't tried recording yet. "jackd" was not needed.


SuSE 10.3, Fedora Core 7, UBUNTU, and Debian: Oct 2007

SuSE 10.3 was released in early October 2007. I tried it first on my WinBook W245 laptop, using a spare disk. Everything looked fine until the system rebooted following installation, when the X-display never appeared. Later attempts to start Sax to directly setup the display also failed. Oops! Do I fight this or something else?

In Fedora Core 7 I discovered fairly quickly that the sound drivers for the laptop usually don't work. End of that.

UBUNTU was fairly impressive until time to rlogin from another system. I have not got that working, so on to another. (more to come...)

Debian 40r0 was even more impressive than UBUNTU, it has an immense collection of packages. rlogin works in both directions, and a user rlogged into the Debian machine can start and display X-application windows. However, the Debian machine has not yet allowed X-applications on another machine to open windows on it.

While UBUNTU and Debian appear to effectively protect machines connected directly to the Internet, they are anti-social on machines connected to a local net inside a firewall. The jury is still out on this change!

Back to UBUNTU for another round: significant goals are to get the following working:

All were accomplished! Debian should work as well based on what I learned with UBUNTU. Time now to stop testing and get some use of the UBUNTU system.


VMware News 9 May 2007

VMware 6.0 appeared today at http://www.vmware.com/. It installs same as 5.x, see instructions in: Install notes for VMWARE. Unfortunately the toolbars at the top of VMWare's window are now fixed, costing about 0.5" at the top. This hurts on a laptop!

USB News 3 May 2007

Kernel 2.6.18.8-0.3 restores /proc/bus/usb making USB available to VMware guests. See SuSE 10.2 for details.

Operating Systems

Before Linux I used 8-bit CP/M on S-100 Bus machines, then MS-DOS on 16-bit PC-AT clones (after one appeared which wasn't slower than my Z-80 system!). MKS Unix tools were a major help with the DOS machines. Windows 3.x was nearly unusable, so I never kept it installed. Windows 95 was the first version worth using. Meanwhile at work I was using UNIX machines, first at National Semiconductor's Datachecker Division, then at Sun Microsystems. I really needed something better at home!

I now run a small network of Linux computers. Originally I used Trans-Ameritech Linux distribution on a single machine, then shifted to Slackware. While both of these were good distributions (and Slackware may still be) I had to know more than I wanted to make and maintain an installation.
I tried Red Hat once.

One day I found SuSE 5.2, which had better installation and maintenance tools than I had ever seen before. Now I could spend less time being a hard-core system guru and actually use the computer to compute, etc.

In 1998, while installing SuSE 5.2 on a second machine (a Chembook laptop) I decided I'd better make a record of what I'd learned from installing all these distributions. Since SuSE looked like my distribution of choice for the future, I could make installations quicker and less painful with this collected experience.

Six years and many installations later, I decided to make a better looking, HTML enhanced, and more comprehensive set of notes for SuSE 9.2. With this start, versions for 10.0 and 10.1 followed in turn.
8 Dec 2006 I found 10.2 at opensuse.org. I have installed it and checked most of it against previous experience.

In April 2007 I tested some Linux software destined for inclusion in an upcoming release of the PA-SPAUG resource CD. A report from this testing should be included on the CD. As part of this testing I installed a recent version, Core 6, of Fedora. This is a vastly more useable distribution than the Red Hat one I tried several years ago. Like SuSE, it has it's own set of problems. See my (brief) report on Core 6 included in the above menu.

Be sure to look at this MAJOR resource for Linux help: http://www.howtoforge.com/.


Hardware

Deskside

Laptop

See the pattern here? About 4 years to obsolescence.

Sadly in 2012 Micro Center at Mercado Center (3255 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, CA) lost their lease, and is unlikely to open a new store in the area due to rental costs.
Micro center was very helpful to me and hosted SVCS SIGs for several years. They will be missed!
The company still has an on-line presence, but their nearest store is in Tustin, CA.

I now recommend Central Computers which has stores in Sunnyvale and Santa Clara.

The WinBook W245 was almost as nice as the Acer, and (except for the usual Winmodem problem) was completely compatible with SuSE Linux 10.1.

Entire contents © Robert B. White 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 10 June 2016