Posts filed under ‘ubuntu’

Installing Ubuntu 7.10 i386 on an Averatec 2370

The following are instructions to install Ubuntu 7.10 on an Averatec 2370. I am installing the i386 of Ubuntu. While Averatec 2370 is a 64-bit machine, the laptop can only address 2 Gb of memory any way, so there is very little advantage in using a 64-bit OS.

  1. Boot the laptop using the Ubuntu CD.
  2. Press the first menu option to start Ubuntu.
  3. When the CD complete booting, click on the Install Icon.
  4. Follow the instructions. The options I would stop at is at the disk space, I change my drive to make the entire drive “/” except for a 1 Gb swap space. Since I have 2 Gb of memory, I don’t see a need for more swap space. After the installation is complete, click on the reboot button. Remove the CD and reboot. Login as the user you created in the install (WARNING: the splash noise will be set to maximum volume).

Most of the items will work just out of the box.

Post Installation Customization

Enabling the Software Repositories

Before you continue, enable all of the necessary software repositories:

  1. Login as a user with Sudo rights.
  2. Select the menu System->Administration->Software Sources.
  3. Check the option for main, universe, and restricted.
  4. Click on the update tab.
  5. Check the security update checkbox.
  6. Click on the close button.

Switching off the Synaptic’s Touchpad’s tapping

I do not like tapping, since it often cause me to click on something that I did not intend to click.

  1. Select Preference->Mouse.
  2. Click on the Touchpad.
  3. Uncheck the Tap to Click.

Setting the time to Local time

Actually, I prefer to use UTC, but I also plan to run Windows OS in Virtualbox. Even Vista does not support UTC properly, however Linux has no problems supporting both formats so I went with local time.

  1. Login as a user who can sudo.
  2. Right-click on the date and select Preference.
  3. You will be prompted to enter your password, enter it.
  4. Uncheck the checkbox for “Use UTC”.
  5. Right-click on the date and select “Adjust date & time”.
  6. Change the time to the local time and date.

Enabling Nvidia binary driver

Since I don’t do any gaming, I don’t really need 3D. Unfortunately, neither the VESA nor the “nv” dirver will allow suspend on this laptop. The problem appears to be the Nvidia hardware. When the computer suspend to disk, the Nvidia display adapter does not turn off. This problem cannot be fix until Nvidia release specs on how to turn off the display adapter. To get suspend, you must use the binary driver.

Before you start, make sure you have access to the internet, since Ubuntu must download the driver.

  1. Login as a user who can sudo.
  2. Select Administration->Restricted Driver Manager.
  3. Click on the enable checkbox and press Close.

Fixing a problem with display shrinking

Whenever you supend or hibernate, resume and then logout. The screen shrinks. To fix this problem, see the following blog.

Things that still does not work

  • Modem
  • When you plug in the headphones, the laptop speaker does not mute.
  • Wireless will occasionally drop connection and die.
  • When you suspend, the laptop will occasionally fail to wake up.

November 21, 2007 at 4:33 pm 7 comments

Video screen shrinks if you logout after sleep or hibernate in Linux

On my Averatec 2370 running the binary Nvidia drivers “Nvidia”, if I set it to go to sleep or hibernate, then wake the computer, and then logout, the screen goes from the 1280×800 to 1024×768. This problem affects both Ubuntu 7.10 and Fedora 8.

Xorg gets the screen size from reading the Extended display identification data (EDID) information from the monitor. It appears that the EDID is read correctly when you start up, but after hibernation or sleep the info gets scrambled.

To correct the problem, I copied the correct EDID info into file when the EDID info is not scrambled. I then have xorg read the file instead of reading it from the monitor.

Instructions for Ubuntu

  1. Login as a user who can sudo.
  2. Open a command line window.
  3. Run the following command to launch the Nvidia Settings application:

    gksudo nvidia-settings
  4. Click on the “DFP-0 – (Seiko) option. This brings up the options for the LCD monitor
  5. Click on the “Acquire EDID” button. This gets the EDID config info from the LCD monitor and ask where to save it. I saved it as “/etc/X11/SeikoEdid.bin”.
  6. Sudo edit the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. Add the following line to the section for “Monitor”.

    Option "CustomEDID" "DFP-0:/etc/X11/SeikoEdid.bin"

What seems to be happening is when you start X, it reads the EDID from the monitor. After a suspend or hiberate, you can no longer read the EDID for some reason. As a result, the driver defaults to a lower resolution, causing the screen to shrink. What I am doing is to record the correct EDID information into a file when it is correct and have X read from the file instead of the device. This should work around the problem.

For Fedora 8, the instruction is similar, except that you login as root and run the Nvidia-Settings menu from the menu.

November 21, 2007 at 12:48 pm 1 comment

Tips on running Sun Virtualbox

The following are tidbits I have learn while running Virtualbox on various systems.

Host Related Issues

Running Virtualbox on an Ubuntu Host

There are two issues:

  1. When you click attempt to open the settings on a virtual machine, you get the following error:

    Could not load the Host USB Proxy Service (VERR_FILE_NOT_FOUND). The service might be not installed on the host computer.

    The cause of this problem is that usbfs is not turned on in Ubuntu. To fix this, you need to edit the file /etc/init.d/ (remember to use sudo). Search and uncomment out all of the code lines:

    # Magic to make /proc/bus/usb work
    #mkdir -p /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs
    #domount usbfs "" /dev/bus/usb/.usbfs -obusmode=0700,devmode=0600,listmode=0644
    #ln -s .usbfs/devices /dev/bus/usb/devices
    #mount --rbind /dev/bus/usb /proc/bus/usb
  2. Unfortunately, this does not solve the problem entirely. When I attempt to access the USB from the guest, I get the following error message.

    Failed to attach the USB device

    Even though you enabled usbfs, the user do not have permission to use USB. You can set up a rule to give each user access. Because everyone who use Virtualbox has to be in the group vboxusers. The easiest way to give every Virtualbox user access would be to give vboxusers access. Sudo edit the file /etc/udev/rules.d/40-permissions.rules, locate the following line:

    # USB devices (usbfs replacement)
    SUBSYSTEM=="usb_device", MODE="0664"

    Change the line to:

    # USB devices (usbfs replacement)
    SUBSYSTEM=="usb_device", GROUP="vboxusers", MODE="0664"

Running Virtualbox on a Mandriva Host

When you install Virtualbox on Mandriva (I am using Virtualbox 1.6.2 on Mandriva 2008.1), it throws an exception when I run the VM:

Virtualbox kernel driver not installed.

This error is encountered if I install the Virtualbox OSE from the Mandriva repository or the Virtualbox rpm from (note: the version I am using is for Mandriva 2008.0, a 2008.1 was not available). The problem is that Mandriva needs a kernel package to compile the Virtualbox kernel driver. First, you need to determine what kernel module you are using. On a desktop, you are likely to be using kernel-desktop-devel-latest and on a laptop you are likely to be using kernel-laptop-devel-latest. When you boot up your machine, you can see which one you have in the boot menu. You should install Virtualbox in the following order.

  1. Install the kernel-desktop-devel-latest or kernel-laptop-devel-latest (depending on whether you have a laptop or desktop). This must be install first because Virtualbox need it to compile a new kernel module.
  2. Download and install the Mandriva Virtualbox rpm from
  3. Add the users that will use Virtualbox to the group vboxusers.

Guest Related Issues

Installing guest additions on CentOS / RedHat

The following have been tested on CentOS 5.2 and 5.4, which is a clone of RedHat enterprise Linux 5.2. You’ll need to install the gcc and kernel source by running the following command as root:

yum install gcc -y
yum install kernel-devel -y

When you run the Linux addition, you’ll get an error indicating that the Linux module cannot be built. Before you compile, you need to set the KERN_DIR variable. To figure out where the directory is, go to /usr/src/kernels. Inside should be the kernel version directories.
type the following command:

uname -rp

The command will return the kernel version and the type of processor. For example, mines return the following:

2.6.18-164.e15 i686

In the /usr/src/kernels is the directory 2.6.18-164.11.1.el5-i686, so we will set the directory using the command:

export KERN_DIR=/usr/src/kernels/2.6.18-164.11.1.el5-i686

Now you can run the Linux Additions.
After the installation, you may notice that the OS was unable to detect the correct resolution, so you have to manually add the the appropriate modes line to your display section. The following is an example from my laptop:

Section "Screen"
	Identifier "Screen0"
	Device     "Card0"
	Monitor    "Monitor0"
	DefaultDepth     24
	SubSection "Display"
		Viewport   0 0
		Depth     24
		Modes   "1280x800"

Note that seamless and automatic guest display will not work because it requires xorg server 1.3 or later. CentOS / RHEL 5.2 only has version 1.1.

Installing guest Additions on Linux Mint

Install build-essentials. This will install the kernel header, source, and compiler so you can run the guest additions.

Installing guest Additions on Suse 10.3

When you try to run the guest addition, you’ll get an error message that you have to install header, source, and gnu c. You need to use YAST to do the following

  1. Use YAST and add OSS source to the repository list.
  2. Install the packages gcc, kernel-source, linux-kernel-headers.

After the header, source and compiler is installed, the guest additions seems to work only some of the time. Suse runs the init scripts in parallel and sometimes the vboxadd script end up running after the Xorg.

There are two way to fix this:

  1. Set RUN_PARALLEL=no in /etc/sysconfig/boot. This may cause a slight delay in runtime.
  2. You can add a dependency to /etc/init.d/.depend.start so that vboxadd is executed after xorg. To do this, find the line for xdm: and add vboxadd to the end of the line. If you reinstall the guest addition, you may have to do this again.

Shared Folder on a Linux Guest

Virtualbox allow you to pass data between host and guest through a shared folder. The instructions in the manual is not necessary very clear. The manual states that you are suppose to run the following command in a Linux host to mount the shared folder:

mount -t vboxsf [-o OPTIONS] sharename mountpoint

The trouble is that users may not understand what the sharename and mountpoint is and that shared folder under Linux is quirky and weird.

Here’s how it works, in the settings for each machine, you can add a shared folder. The process is fairly intuitive, you click on the add button and select a directory where the share directory will be a sharename is automatically created. This is the share name you will use in the mount command. The mount point is simply a directory that you will mount the share folder to. You will have to do this as root or use sudo. For example:

mount -t vboxsf vshare /home/paulsiu/vshare

The problem is when you tried this, you get the following error:

/sbin/mount.vboxsf: mounting failed with the error: Protocol error

If you look at syslog, you’ll see the following error:

Nov 8 19:28:09 wxbuilder kernel: vboxvfs: sf_glob_alloc: vboxCallMapFolder failed rc=-102
Nov 8 19:28:09 wxbuilder kernel: sf_read_super_aux err=-71

Apparently, you’ll only get this error if you use the default sharename. When you create a new shared folder, Virtualbox will ask where your shared directory is on the host. When you select the shared directory, the sharename will default to that directory. If I create a shared folder at “/home/paulsiu/vshare”, virtualbox will generate a sharename of “vshare”. Unfortunately, if you use this default sharename, you will get a protocol error, so you should rename the sharename to something other than default, such as “vboxshare” for example. I have no idea why, but that appears to be what’s happening.

With the new shared name, you can now mount the shared directory. Unfortunately, the directory is mounted as root with the group of root and read writable only by root. Since it is a bad idea to login as root, your shared directory is readonly.

The user manual suggests using the mount options and set the uid, gid, and mode. But the manual lies, you cannot set the mode. The permission on the shared directory is locked to writable by user only. This mean you cannot create a single persistent directory for all users on the system.

One way around this is to create a vshare directory in each of the user’s home directory and have the login script mount the shared directory to this home directory as the user.

mount -t vboxsf -o uid=<user> <sharename> /home/<user>/vshare

Seamless Mode or Auto-resize Guest Display is grey out on a Linux Guest

According to the user manual, you must have Xorg Server 1.3 or later. To check what version you have type the following command at the command line:

X -version

If the Xorg X server is lower than 1.3, Seamless and Auto-resizing will probably be disabled. Ironically, enterprise Linux like RedHat, CentOS, and SLED are likely to be using an older Xorg Server, so corporate users will most likely to be hit by this limitation.

Windows guest startup with a inaccessible boot device message

When I boot up windows 2000, I got the message “INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE”. The problem was traced to the IDE controller type. I had set the IDE controller to PIIX4 when it was previously set to PIIX3. Setting it back to PIIX3 corrected the problem.

64-bit Guest Issue

You can only install 64-bit OS on a 64-bit host. In addition, you will need hardware virtualization support like Intel VT-x or AMD-V for your cpu. In the case of Intel, be real careful of what cpu you buy because Intel has multiple virtualization technologies. The Intel P7350 (used in popular machines like HP-DV5) is listed on the Intel web site of supporting hardware virtualization, but it appears that it has VT-d and not VT-x. Virtualbox needs Intel VT-x, so if you have a Intel processor and don’t have VT-x, you cannot use a 64-bit guest.

Setup Issues

Upgrading Virtualbox

On the Linux box, you generally uninstall the old version and install the new version. On windows, running the installer generally upgrade the old version. There are things to watch out for such as snapshot incompatibility. Follow the following instructions for best results.

  1. Close down all of the virtual machines.
  2. Go through each of the virtual machine and make sure that you get rid of snapshots. The reason is that snapshots are not necessary compatible from version to version. If you don’t do this, you may find that you cannot start your machine any more. To recover, you will have to reinstall the old version and then get rid of the snapshots.
  3. Virtualbox stores the the settings and virtual machine files in .VirtualBox in the user’s home directory on Linux. I am not sure where it is stored in windows. In any case, backup this directory in case somethings goes terribly wrong.
  4. Uninstall Virtualbox. If you are using Windows Host or a Linux with package management, all you need to do is to run the uninstall. If you installed Virtualbox from source, I have no idea how you would uninstall (the manual doesn’t list a way to do it). I assume you just halt Virtualbox and then install over the previous version.
  5. Install the new version of Virtualbox. With luck, all of your virtual machine should come up. When upgrading, I got the following error message:

    RTR3Init failed with rc=-1912 (rc=-1912)

    The VirtualBox kernel modules do not match this version of VirtualBox. The installation of VirtualBox was apparently not successful. Executing

    '/etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup'

    may correct this. Make sure that you do not mix the OSE version and the PUEL version of VirtualBox.

    To fix this, do exactly as the mesage tell you to do:

    sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup

    Note that this only works if you have the compiler installed.

  6. You may find that your guest additions no longer work and will have reinstall the guest additions.

Virtual Disk setup

You can create virtual disk, but one problem is that they will run out of space and there is no easy way to extend them. The following are my recommendations:

  • Create a really large dynamic virtual disk (ex: 200 Gb), and then create a much smaller partition on it (ex: 5 Gb). Because the disk is dynamic, the actual VDI file is small initially no matter how “large” the drive is. Now, we create a small actual partition on it because we want to limit the actual size of the file. For example, if we run a disk defrag utility, it may cause the drive to take its full size. By keeping the actual partition small, you can avoid the disk from growing to the maximum size of the disk. When we start nearing the end of the partition, we can extend it by using an utility like gparted. By doing this, you can have tons of VDI file all at 200 GB, but actually taking up a fraction of actual disk space.
  • On a Linux guest, do not use UUID references in your /etc/fstab. A lot of distro these days try to be helpful and use UUID references. By using UUID reference, you can move the drive from hda to hdb and it would still reference the partition. While this is very helpful with hardware, this is not so useful on a VM since there’s really no disk to swap around. In addition, when you clone a drive, it will generate a new UUID. If you attempt to swap the new cloned drive with the old one and you use UUID, the OS will not be able to find the drive and crash.
  • Keep it simple by using one partition per virtual disk. With the new SATA configuration, you can have as many drives as you like,
  • For a lot of Linux virtual machines, I generally use a 3 disk configuration: root, home, and swap. This way, I will be able to reinstall without wiping out home. If home or root runs out of space, I can swap in a larger disk.

Bugs and workarounds

Disk Cloning corruption in Virtualbox 2.10

In release 2.1, the command to clone virtual disk change from clonevdi to clonehd. Normally, you can clone a virtual disk by running the command:

vboxmanage clonehd olddisk newdisk

However, this did not work in version 2.10 for some reason. The disk image is corrupted. To get around this problem do the following instead:

  1. Use your host’s copy command to make a copy of the virtual disk.
  2. The copy of the virtual disk has the same UUID as the old disk, so you will need to reassign a new UUID by using the following command:
    VBoxManage internalcommands sethduuid <newVirtualDiskFile>


Keyboard corrupted by Linux Guest Addition in Virtualbox 2.1.0

Recently, I installed Linux Mint as a guest on Virtualbox 2.1.0. Whenever I type a space, Gnome Do would pop up. This happens when I type a space in any field. Normally, Gnome Do is triggered by <super>space, where <super> is the windows key. Virtualbox 2.1.0 addition apparently corrupted the keyboard so that the <super> key doesn’t exists any more. So far, it may only affect US keyboards. See

One work around is to install an earlier virtualbox 2.0.6 guest addition, which works with 2.1.0 and do not have this problem. The guest addition can be download here and you can mount it as a CD.

November 20, 2007 at 10:00 pm 46 comments

Mandriva 2008 vs Suse 10.3 vs Ubuntu 7.10 on an Averatec 2370

When I purchased Averatec 2370 last year, I thought I was getting a good deal on an ultra-portable laptop. Two warranty repairs later, I no longer think the same. To pour salt in the wound, Averatec 2370 does not work properly with Vista. Due to a BIOS incompatibility, Vista only runs at the processor’s lowest speed. When I close the laptop lid, the laptop’s screen goes blank and never comes back from sleep. How can anyone claim to be Vista compatible with these problems? Both Averatec and Microsoft should be ashamed! Annoyed, I had a thought; can Linux succeed where Microsoft and Averatec have failed?

I had previously failed to install Linux on the Averatec 2370. The two areas that all distros failed in were the wireless and suspend to RAM. Now that Suse 10.3, Mandriva 2008, and Ubuntu 7.10 have recently been release. It was time to try again.

Unlike the other reviews, I will mostly concentrate on hardware detection and support. Based on past experience, Averatec 2370 is not a particularly Linux friendly machine. What I am interested is to install the Linux on the laptop and have all of the hardware working with a minimum amount of configuration. In all cases, I put in the install CD and default install overwriting everything on the hard disk. I then get access to the internet and do an update.

Mandriva 2008.0 (KDE)

Mandriva installed quickly with a graphical wizard. The distro detected the screen properly and automatically install the Nividia proprietary display driver and offered the choice of none, Metisse, and Compiz. I chose Compiz. The wireless card was detected properly and I was able to select the WPA-PSK options. Unfortunately, the wireless driver did not actually work.

There are two annoying problems with the installer. Some of the screens wizard screens do not have a back button, so if you make a mistake, you cannot go back. When the installer ends, it doesn’t reboot the machine but leaves you at the command line. You have to press CTRL-D to logout (most people will probably just turn off the machine).

When I did reboot the computer, it boots into a blank screen. After playing around, I realized that it’s freezing on the splash screen. Turn off the computer and boot again. When you see the startup menu (grub), press F2 for options and remove from the end of the boot line “vga=788” to get past the splash screen. Next we need to remove the bad vga entry from the boot parameter. Login and click on the Control Center icon at the bottom task bar and click on the Boot tab. Click on the choice “Set up boot system” and wait. Click on the next button. Click on modify button to modify the default grub menu. Expand the Advance options and set the options to 640×480 16 bpp and press OK. Press the finish button and reboot the laptop.

The touchpad was correctly detected, but I could find no GUI option to configure it. I ended up editing the xorg.conf file manually to remove the tap click.

Suspend to RAM and Suspend to Disk both failed. In both cases, suspend were both successful, but when we wake from RAM, we get a blank screen. When the laptop wakes from disk, flicking garbage appears on the screen. The wireless driver was able to connect to a public network, but I was unable to connect to a WPA-PSK router.

All in all, I am impressed by Mandriva but found that the disto isn’t completely compatible with my laptop.

SUSE 10.3 (Gnome)

SUSE is the only distro without a live CD. Unlike Mandriva or Ubuntu, you cannot test the disto on your machine before you install. The installer was easy to follow but took over an hour to install everything. I suspect that it was because it was downloading packages from the net. Installation would probably be faster if I had use the DVD instead of the CD. The installer correctly detected the 1280×800 LCD. The installer initially detected the RT73 wireless card, but the drivers failed so I had no wireless.

After the installation, I attempted to fix the wireless problem but it appears that I would have to download and compile a new drivers. To make things worse, neither suspend to RAM nor suspend to disk works. In either case, the laptop would appear to suspend, only to drop back to the enter password screen. Attempts to run s2ram with different parameters all failed. In each case, suspend is always halted.

The touchpad was correctly detected, but I could not find the configuration screen to turn off the touchpad tap clicking. I ended up editing the xorg.conf file manually to remove the tap click.

Unlike the other two distros, it isn’t quite that easy to install 3D desktop effects. Video files do not play because codec is missing.

All in all, I am not impressed at all with the SUSE 10.3 release. Suse used to be the best distro for laptop because of their laptop management support. It appears that they have fallen way behind the other two distros.

Ubuntu 7.10 (Gnome)

Ubuntu comes on a live CD that you can test before you install. The installer was easy to follow and install the disto quickly. Like the other two distros, the screen was detected correctly at 1280×800. Surprisingly, the wireless worked right out of the box with WPA. On the downside, there is a bit of instability to the wireless drivers. I have had a few cases where the wireless driver lost the connection.

Unlike Mandriva, the proprietary driver is not installed by default. You have to install it using the restricted driver. If you want 3D, you have to go to a different screen to enable it. In this case, you should install the proprietary driver because suspend to ram will not work properly without it.

The touchpad is correctly detected and there is a GUI option to turn off the touchpad tap. The product does not come with any codec, but the OS automatically prompt you to install it if attempt to use a codec that it does not have.


The clear winner is Ubuntu. It is the only distro that seems to work mostly out of the box. It is the only distro where wireless and suspend worked even though I had to install the proprietary driver to get it to work.

I have to admit that Ubuntu has never been my favorite distro. From my point of view, it’s one of the ugliest distros and is heavily hyped. Yet there is substance behind the hype, the distro over the years have always managed to be just a little bit better than its competitor especially in its laptop support. It’s managed to won me over despite my dislike of it.

Note that all distros were much easier to install than Vista. Unlike Linux, I had to search and download drivers from the manufacturer to get Vista to work. Even when all of the drivers were installed, the computer ran at half the clock speed and had broken power management.

Linux is not perfect. There are still some problems, particularly with the wireless. None of the distro have drivers for the modem. The difference between Vista and Linux is that one day; the problems I encountered with my laptop will most likely be fixed. The problems I have with Vista will most likely not be fixed, so I am saying goodbye to Vista on the Averatec 2370.


Mandriva 2008 KDE Suse 10.3 Ubuntu 7.10
Dual Core support




  Detect 1280×800 LCD




  Detect Video card




  3D Desktop effects









Yes, but can’t figure out how to turn off tap without editing xorg.conf

Yes, but can’t figure out how to turn off tap without editing xorg.conf


Power Management      
  Suspend to RAM



Yes, but only when using Proprietary Nvidia drivers.

  Suspend to Disk




















Play Flash



Yes, but autodownload of codec was needed.

Play mp3




Play Xvid



Yes, but autodownload of codec was needed.

Play DVD




October 31, 2007 at 3:16 pm 16 comments

Ubuntu 7.04 on Averatec 2370 – a failure for now

The following post should applied to Linux Mint 3.0 as well. I attempted to run Ubuntu 7.04 on an Averatec 2370 and it turned out mostly OK, but several essential functionality did not work.

Dual Core Support Pass
CPU Scaling Pass. Can run at 1.67Ghz unlike in Vista
Display-Open Source Drivers Requires editing to the xorg.conf to get 1280×800
Display-Proprietary Drivers Requires editing to the xorg.conf to get 1280×800
Audio Pass
Hard Disk Pass
Optical Drive Pass
Ethernet Pass
Wireless Requires downloading and compiling of open source drivers
Modem Not detected
SD Card Pass
Suspend to RAM Failed. Cannot be made to work without kernel upgrade
Suspend to Disk Pass

Display – Open Source Drivers

Ubuntu correctly identified and install the open source nv drivers. However, the screen defaults to 1024×768. To fix the probem, all you need to do is to add the resolution “1280×800” to the Modes line in the file /etc/X11/xorg.conf.

In your display section, change the line in xorg.conf:

Modes            "1024x768"  "800x600"  "640x480"


Modes            "1280x800"  "1024x768"  "800x600"  "640x480"

Save the file and reboot the computer. You should be able to set the resolution to 1280 x 800 from the menu System->Preferences->Screen Resolution Preference. Note that PCLinuxOS 2007 actually detected the screen properly.

Display – Proprietary Driver

The proprietary Nvidia drivers can be activated from the menu System->Administration->Restricted Driver Manager. Mines failed to install until I updated the system. You need to add the following line to your Section “Device”.

Option "DynamicTwinView" "False"

The option needs to be set or the Nvidia driver will read the refresh rate incorrectly. For more info, see this launchpad entry.


The Ralink RT73 chipset in the laptop actually has an open source driver, but unfortunately, the version that comes with Ubuntu 7.04 does not work. I downloaded the source for the latest RT73 Next Generation driver, but I was unable to compile it because it require a particular options to be compile into the Kernal. Frankly, I am not going to compile a new kernal.

Suspend to RAM

Currently, when you suspend to RAM, it puts the laptop into a coma that you cannot return from. There appears to be no way to get suspend to RAM to work. None of the distro I have tried will correct this issue. Users who want this feature will have to wait until they fixed the problem in future versions of the kernal.

Hope for the future

Just as an experiment, I upgraded to Ubuntu Gusty Gibbon and notice that wireless actually started working though it was still pretty unstable. Various post indicated that ACPI support is improving, though suspend to RAM still does not work. One of the nice things about Linux is that even though the OS does not work on your machine today, it may work in the future when they release future versions. In contrast, if your machine does not work with Vista today, it will not work with Vista tomorrow or ever.

September 23, 2007 at 3:42 pm 1 comment

Sending/Receiving pictures from a cellphone using bluetooth on Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn

I recently purchased an aftermarket bluetooth module for my Acer 3680. The only bluetooth device in my house is actually my cellphone. I figure I’ll try to send pictures to and from my cellphone. After a few hours of playing around, I got really frustrated.

The problem is that bluetooth have changed rapidly over the years in both architecture and interface. The documentation on the net tend to be a chaotic collection of old and new stuff. Most of the instructions are severely outdated. I even read an article recently on one of the Linux magazine on the newsstand which suggested that you enter gnome-bluetooth-admin to enable the gnome bluetooth integration. This feature has been implemented differently for quite some time even though the magazine just came out this month. Here’s a summary of what seemed to have worked.

What Needs to be installed

Ubuntu 7.04 seems to come with bluez integration built-in. BlueZ is the bluetooth protocol stack. The Gnome applet appears to be installed as well because as soon as I press the bluetooth button in front, the gnome-applet appeared. If I select the applet preference, I can see bluetooth connection options and my computer’s name. However, I can’t seemed to send and receive files. On the computer side, there seemed to be no program to send the file to the phone. The phone can see the computer, but when I send a picture, I get a “service not supported” message.

The package you need to install is gnome-bluetooth. There are two ways you can install this package:

  • Method 1: Select the menu item System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager. Now, press the search button and enter “gnome-bluetooth” and press search. In the list return is “gnome-bluetooth”. Click on it and select “Mark for Installation” and then press the Apply button.
  • Method 2: Open a terminal window and type: sudo apt-get install gnome-bluetooth

If the software is install properly, you should see a “Bluetooth File Sharing” under the accessories menu.
Sending a picture from the phone to the computer

To receive a file from the phone, you need to turn on the Bluetooth File Sharing. Bluetooth must be working on both the phone and the computer.

  1. On the computer, select the menu Accessories->Bluetooth File Sharing. You should see a Bluetooth File Sharing applet on the menu.
  2. Send the picture from your phone. On the Motorola Razr, press the center button and select “Fun and Apps” icon. Go to the pictures icon and press OK. Select a picture and press the middle button. In the list of menu, there should be a copy option. Select the copy option. Your computer should be in the list. Press Select.
  3. On the computer, you will receive an option to accept the file. Press OK. The file is copied to your computer.

Sending a picture to the phone

This is actually easier since you don’t even need Bluetooth File sharing running. What you do need is to have bluetooth running on your phone and computer.

  1. On the computer, right-click on the picture you want to send and select “Send to…”.
  2. Set the Send as option as “Bluetooth (Obex Push)”. The send to should list your cell phone. If it does not, check to make sure that its bluetooth is active on the phone.
  3. Press the Send button.
  4. On the cellphone, you’ll be prompted if you want to accept the picture. Press Accept.

Keep in mind that these instructions are for the standard Gnome on Ubuntu 7.04. Users on KDE will probably have an entirely different set of tools.

August 26, 2007 at 10:14 am 2 comments

Using Instlux to install Ubuntu in windows XP over the network

Recently, I purchased a new computer for my fiancee. This left her old ancient Toshiba 1805-S207 for me to experiment on. The problem is that the CD-ROM has died (it returns IDE #1 error on startup), so I can’t install from CD-ROM. It’s an old machine, so it can boot from floppy, PXE, PCMCIA hard disk, but not from usb.

I attempted to set up a PXE server, but I was only partially successful. I found this program call instlux which allow installation from Windows. It however does not come with a lot of instructions, so I write down my experience.

Instlux comes with several different types:

  • Instlux
  • Instlux for Ubuntu
  • Instlux for Suse

The Instlux is the base installer which allows you to install from many different Linux distro, but requires configuration. The other instlux is preconfigure to work with a single distro. The Ubuntu installer comes in a version from CD-ROM and one that install from network. The Suse installer only installs from CD-ROM. Since I don’t have a CD-ROM, Ubuntu network installer was the easiest way to go. If you have a working CD-ROM and can’t boot from it, I recommend using Smart Boot Manager to boot from a floppy and then use that to boot from the CD.

To use Instlux, follow the following instructions:

  1. Make sure you back up your drive! I did not encountered any problems during installation, but one person on the net trashed his hard disk. Remember that you have to repartition your hard disk, so data loss is always a possibility.
  2. Download Instlux from the Sourceforge site. In my case, I download the english version of Instlux for Ubuntu network. As of this writing, Instlux only support install of Ubuntu 6.06.
  3. Run the installer. This installs the installer into the C: drive and modify the c:\boot.ini file (which is normally hidden in Windows). The installer consists of the instlux directory with custom vmlinux and initrd. There is also a glrdr that calls the Ubuntu installer. The installer will prompt you to reboot. Note that if you are using Windows 98 or ME or earlier, Instlux won’t work without some configuration because ME or earlier does not use the same boot loader as NT.
  4. Reboot the computer, pay attention at this point. You will get a menu that allow you to select Windows and Ubuntu 6.06 installer. Select the Ubuntu installer and press enter. The menu appears only for a few seconds. If you don’t pay attention, it will boot into Windows by default and you will be prompted to uninstall Instlux and be confused like I was. If you get a prompt to uninstall instlux. Reboot the machine and pay more attention to the screen.
  5. When you select the installer, glrdr is loaded and you get an option to install Ubuntu 6.06. You can follow the instruction to install Ubuntu 6.06. Be careful when you get to the section where it asks if you want to installer over your hard disk if you want to dual boot your machine.
  6. Installation took hours. I am not sure if this is because I was running this on a 1.1 Ghz Celeron Coppermine or if it’s because I was install Ubuntu over a 768K DSL instead of a faster CD-ROM drive.
  7. After the install, I boot into Ubuntu and got a strange drumming noise that slowly faded away as the computer run. Weird! It never happen again after a reboot. Everything worked fine. Even the wireless driver for the DWL-G650 card was installed. Unfortunately, wireless connection did not work, but it appears that it was because my router does not support ipv6.
  8. I reboot into windows and got the promp to uninstall Instlux. This time, I click yes and it remove Instlux and restore the boot.ini file.

Now I can dual boot into windows or Ubuntu.

December 25, 2006 at 4:15 pm 2 comments

Recovery from a broken sudo

Ubuntu is probably the first distro that uses sudo instead of a root account. Recently, I started playing with it to help a friend out with a computer problem and discovered that sudo is rather fragile. For example, if you were to accidently delete or damage the /etc/sudoers file, sudo would stop working. You would not be able to get the sudoers back because you can’t sudo!

To recover, reboot your Ubuntu. At the boot manager, you should see an option for recovery, select that version and you’ll boot into root in text mode. From there, you can fix /etc/sudoers and everthing will be back to normal.

What did surprise me is that there is no root password. I thought when I type sudo, it was actually switching to root. Apparently, this is not the case. I am not sure if this would count as a security risk or not.

To avoid damaging your sudoers file, always edit it with sudo visudo. Visudo apparently checks the file for validity before saving it, so you don’t accidently damage your sudoers file.

July 28, 2006 at 3:29 am 1 comment

Ubuntu / Debian apt-get install build-essential issue

Recently, I installed Ubunto 6.06 on my Presario 906us laptop. Unfortunately, the wireless did not work by default. I google and found a a very nice article for installing the Compaq W200 (Orinoco) drivers:

The installation process involves downloading the source, compiling the drivers and installing them. In order to compile the drivers, I had to get various packages. The article suggested using the following line:

sudo apt-get install build-essential cvs linux-headers-`uname -r` gcc-3.4-base cpp-3.4

Instead of working, I get an error that build-essential could not be found:

Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree… Done
E: Couldn't find package build-essential

The problem turns out to be an incomplete package list. To fixed the problem, you can either run either apt-get update from the command line or run the Synaptic Package Manager and press the refresh button.

June 18, 2006 at 1:34 pm 10 comments


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