Archive for the ‘ubuntu’ Category


March 27th, 2008

Remember how Ubuntu came out of nowhere and just like that made everyone else feel like they're lagging behind? That's really what makes Ubuntu stand out, there is a real understanding of user needs in their leadership. The past couple of years they have empowered so many people who were interested in Linux but just didn't know how to get started or fix common annoyances (like lack of media codecs, say). And that policy hasn't gone unnoticed, I certainly feel like Fedora, for example, is doing a lot better job at embracing a wide audience than before Ubuntu ever came to light.

The latest in Ubuntu reiterates their ability to empower their users. If you're a Ubuntu user you probably know about something called 'Personal Package Archives' (ppa). It is currently the designated method of installing kde4, until it goes mainline. Well guess what, Launchpad now offers a ppa to every user! How's them apples.

This means you now get your own little apt repository you can use, and offer your packages through the same mechanism as any officially supported package, without resorting to .debs and custom "here's how you install it" instructions. Fabulous! :star:

Here's my shiny new PPA:

For the time being I'll only be keeping undvd packages there.

Unfortunately, debian packaging is something of a cult and not the easiest thing to get involved with. They are nazi about following guidelines to-a-t and therefore wrapping up a .deb takes considerably more time than writing an .ebuild or building an .rpm. I appreciate the care that goes into it, but I wish they would find a more efficient mechanism for it. The debian/ directory should be more of an abstraction, not actually having to go and hand edit the files in there, that's silly.

Ubuntu Gutsy on the Toshiba U300

October 31st, 2007

Screen resolution too small

The native resolution 1280x800 is not recognized correctly. Bugs #153160, #135169, #136783. To fix it:

echo "deb gutsy main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
apt-get update
apt-get upgrade
dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

No sound

The soundcard seems to be recognized, but outputs no perceptible sound. Bug #159045.

The fix is not very obvious, but you need to install Realtek's audio driver for this. This workaround pretty much nukes your alsa installation and messes with ubuntu's configuration, but if the config wasn't working at all, what good is it?

Make sure you have lib32ncurses5-dev installed, or alsa-utils will fail silently.

tar xjvf realtek-linux-audiopack-4.07a.tar.bz2
cd realtek-linux-audiopack-4.07a
sudo ./install

I haven't done any exhaustive testing, but sound output works, at least.

References: toshiba laptops, u300

EDIT: Okay, one problem. Plugging in headphones does not interfere at all with sound output from the speakers, and the two have separate volume controls. This is fixed partially by using:

modprobe snd_hda_intel model=toshiba probe_mask=1

In /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base :

options snd-hda-intel model=toshiba probe_mask=1

I say partially, because what I observe is that sound output is now sent to the right place, but the master volume control does not control the headphones. So if you have the headphones plugged in, you need a separate control for that. Still an improvement.

UPDATE: Discard the above, this seems to fix it conclusively.

upgrading ubuntu - the horror

February 1st, 2007

I can't believe how long it's been since we started using distributions, picking the one we like and staying with, because we perceive certain advantages the others don't have. And when a new version comes, we install it, replacing the old. How much longer will it be before it is possible to *upgrade* a distro without friggin breaking it in half??

I installed Ubuntu Dapper on the "family" pc back in Norway in.. July...ish. I'm back in town now for a few days and as I logged in, it still worked beautifully. Nothing broken, no problems, nothing. But Edgy has been out for some time, and keeping up with updates is generally recommended to stay more or less in the loop long term. So I decided to update. I looked up how in the documentation and followed the instructions. It started off so well that I was impressed. It first removed all my "custom" sources in sources.list and then it set off. I had used Automatix to install multimedia stuff, but I think that was the extent of my "modifications". There was one entry for the latest amarok in sources.list, but the rest I think were standard.

But it did not carry on so. At one point I got a big fat warning about some package not being able to install/configure/whatever. Then I got a dozen more of them. Once the process was done, not throwing a fatal error my way, the little icon indicated that "a reboot is required", so I did, thinking I could probably fix the bugs when I do. It was not to be. Upon boot, X wouldn't start. I was getting strange errors about a permission problem with /dev/null or something. The system was completely broken and I really didn't feel like resuscitating. I use Ubuntu because it's no hassle and "just works". :rolleyes:

And there ends the tale of the upgrade. Once again, after so many years, an upgrade between versions leaves the system completely broken. How much longer do we have to wait until this ceases to be a problem? I can appreciate that it's complicated, but how many other complicated problems have been solved?