Saturday, May 05, 2007

One step forward. . .

The past two weeks have been filled with Ubuntu pain and joy. First, the pain. . .

After trying to update my laptop to try to get my wireless network card to work, I began having issues with the system freezing. It would go through the startup and then end with a blank screen and a non-flashing cursor right before the login prompt should have come up. Multiple reboots would get the system to finally come up. Shutting down, however, would hang and the Ubuntu splash screen and not shut down. It was a vicious cycle.

The first suggestion I attempted was an upgrade from 6.06 to 7.04. That didn't work. I tried going back to the original 6.06 version but the hanging issue got worse. I thought perhaps it was an old BIOS and download an update but it would only work with Windows. I couldn't get my 98 disks to install (not bootable) so I installed 95. That wouldn't run the BIOS upgrade and I couldn't get it to upgrade to 98. I don't have any 2000 disks so I tried an FDISK /MBR to really clear out everything on the disk and try Ubuntu again. The boot problem was worse than ever. Not only would it not boot, even after multiple attempts, it took multiple attempts to book from the live CD.

So, something in the laptop is truly screwed up. I've read some things about Ubuntu messing with an EPROM on old IBM laptops like mine but couldn't find enough to tell me how to fix it. I've thought of buying a new drive to make sure there's nothing there.

One step forward. Two steps back.

Then, Dell announced that by the end of the month they would be offering a number of their models with Ubuntu pre-installed. I'm not quite ready to give up on my IBM T20 yet, but if I can get a new machine with Ubuntu all ready to go, maybe it will be worth the investment.

Dude, I'm gettin' a Dell.

On the plus side, in the meantime I've also been working with my swappable drive on my tower. I yank the Win98 drive and slide in the Ubuntu drive. I've upgraded to 7.04. Partitioned the drive better. Tweaked it so that I get full 1440x900 resolution on my flat panel display. Installed Google Earth (still runs pretty slow, though). Added wallpapers. Migrated my Buddy List from Trillian into GAIM. Installed Thunderbird (but haven't migrated my accounts yet). Migrated my Firefox bookmarks. And I am now writing this blog from that Ubuntu machine.

The next real step is to get a Windows emulator running so that I can run several apps that I really want to have that are designed for the Windows environment (such as National Geographic Topo). I also need to tweak some things to get all the buttons on my Logitech MX510 mouse to work.


Heidi said...

I don't see a laptop on the Dell website that comes with Ubuntu, yet.

Der Geis said...

As I said, dell announced that "by the end of the month" they would have them. In the meantime, while there is no official word, sources within Dell have been talking to Machines will be available from $408 for an e-series box without a monitor. Four XPS machines will also have the option of pre-installed Ubuntu, as will three e-series laptops.