Ubuntu 8.10 Installation on Dell Vostro 1400

10 11 2008

After having the falling out with Gentoo, and Linux in general, I’ve been using good old XP for the last 4 months or so. Sure, Linux has plenty of advantages, but it just hasn’t been worth the work to set up again. When I first started playing with Linux I wanted to learn all about the operating system, programming, etc. Now, I know about the operating system, programming, etc, and just want it to work without endless Google searches on how to work through all the bugs or spending 3 days compiling my Gentoo system. When Ubuntu 8.10 came out I decided to give Linux another chance on my laptop.

I pop the CD in, go through the install procedure, get to the prompt that says I need to restart, and then get a black screen with a little blinking white line. Hello Linux? Knock knock? Anyone there? I wait a few minutes and then press the power button, at which point it actually decides to try and shut down. It gets to the “stopping ALSA” part and then goes back to sitting there doing nothing. After a few more minutes I give up and kill the power, restart, and install some of the new device drivers and updates. The Nvidia driver seems to make things even worse, after I reboot from the updates instead of getting a blinking curser, I get a blank screen followed by pretty speckled grey, green, and red colors. That can’t be good… The good news, after the driver updates, at least the wireless works fine using the Broadcom B43 wireless driver.

A quick Google search reveals a dozen bug reports, and even more forum posts with no solutions but lots of complaints. Eventually I run across this post, https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+question/49799 which seems to mention some random hack on how to fix it by adding ifconfig eth0 down into the stop section of /etc/init.d/alsa-utils. It seems to work, but I’m still wondering why… Adding a command to kill my network when I disable ALSA seems like a work around I’d rather not use for long. This is a new release of Ubuntu, so I won’t complain too much about a couple installation bugs, but while Googling I found there were plenty of bug reports with this complain while 8.10 was in Beta. Hopefully Linux isn’t going with the Windows approach of releasing software before it’s ready to be released…

Moving on from that annoying little venture, I decided to update the 60 packages saying they were in need of being updated. After the new kernel was updated, I reboot, and hear a crackling/popping/fuzz coming from my speakers instead of the welcoming sound. Wonderful, now sound is broke. For those who don’t know, ALSA hates me and all my computers, and has since the days of Slackware 11 on my server. For once it wasn’t ALSA causing my troubles, but Pulse Audio. After doing a killall pulseaudio and setting all my sound settings to ALSA instead of auto detect, sound works fine. I think I’ll just uninstall pulseaudio when I get a chance, some instructions for that I found here, http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=973637

After fixing the shutdown problems and sound, things seem to be working fairly well. Compiz is awesome! In a useless sort of way. I’m not usually one for random special effects, but I’ve also never had a video card that could really run them all. This time I gave up my usual liking of fast boot times and low CPU usage and enabled every little useless compiz feature to play with. My desktop is now more of a… 3D watery sticky wobbly gliding cubetop! I think it’s giving me a headache…

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