Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Open Terminal to Current Nautilus Location

sudo apt-get install nautilus-open-terminal

Dual Monitors Breaks 3D Desktop Effects (Compiz)

When I left home last night, I had full functional working 3D desktop effects. Once I added my two 1600x1200 monitors this morning and resized my virtual desktop size past the breaking limit, that all went bye-bye. :( I vaguely remember reading that increasing the desktop size on my video card will automatically disable this wonderful feature. Surprise. It did.

Well, at least with the old video driver, it's still smoother than the newer ones. Bummer though. I was really liking all the extra "new OS" bells and whistles. Maybe I can find a work-around someday, but I highly doubt it.

EDIT:
Here's the URL that discusses the root of the problem (I think it still applies to 8.10, but I'm not certain just yet... will look further):
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=580891

And some more specific to the Dell Latitude D430:
http://www.winchen.de/PHPWIKI/doku.php/public/delld430

Workaround:
Switch xorg.conf on bootup depending on whether or not external monitors are attached.

I don't use Compiz or most of Ubuntu when I'm at work anyway, so why worry about it? However, when I'm just using the laptop, perhaps just running a virtual desktop of default size is fine? That should allow compiz and other 3D stuff to run splendidly.

Getting started:
Install "xresprobe"
Create two xorg.conf files; one with the 3200x1200 virtual desktop, one with the default (2048x2048)
Create shell script that runs during startup to use one or the other xorg files.
Create a symbolic link to run the shell script just before x11 runs.

I got the basic idea from here:
http://sernaonubuntu.wikidot.com/multiple-monitors

Also, a great site about configuring XRandR and XORG to be happier together:
http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Xorg_RandR_1.2

Results of Workaround:
It worked! I don't have Compiz running when I'm using my dual monitor setup, but I do have it when I'm just using the laptop by itself. I didn't end up using all the fancy stuff in the above post. My xorg.conf files are pretty simple (subsitute the virtual size in each for your preferred sizes):

# xorg.conf (X.Org X Window System server configuration file)
#
# This file was generated by dexconf, the Debian X Configuration tool, using
# values from the debconf database.
#
# Edit this file with caution, and see the xorg.conf manual page.
# (Type "man xorg.conf" at the shell prompt.)
#
# This file is automatically updated on xserver-xorg package upgrades *only*
# if it has not been modified since the last upgrade of the xserver-xorg
# package.
#
# Note that some configuration settings that could be done previously
# in this file, now are automatically configured by the server and settings
# here are ignored.
#
# If you have edited this file but would like it to be automatically updated
# again, run the following command:
# sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "Configured Monitor"
EndSection

Section "Screen"
Identifier "Default Screen"
Monitor "Configured Monitor"
Device "Configured Video Device"
SubSection "Display"
Virtual 3200 1200
EndSubSection
EndSection

Section "Device"
Identifier "Configured Video Device"
EndSection

Monday, June 22, 2009

Locking a Package (Removing Unwanted Updates from Update Manager)

Every once in a while, you come across a version of a driver or package that is just better than newer, "updated versions". If you want to keep the old one and stop getting reminders about the new ones, just open Package Manger, select the package you want to keep and then click "Package -> Lock Package" from the menu. This will prevent auto-updates from happening to that package.

Also, you can force an old package to be reinstated from this same menu. This would have helped me a TON and saved a lot of time with my video driver woes...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Installing Latest VLC in Intrepid Ibex (8.10)

Add the repositories from c-korn here:
https://launchpad.net/~c-korn/+archive/vlc

Add the GPG key from the same location.

Open your package manager and add the latest stable version of VLC.

Older Intel Drivers Far Better than Newer Drivers

I'm using the xserver-xorg-video-intel driver version 2.4.1-1ubuntu10 (default that installed with 8.10) and the graphics performance is MUCH better than 2.6 or 2.7 was for my Intel chipset (Dell D430). Guess newer isn't always better...

3D Desktop effects even work somewhat!

Making the Windows Key (Super/Mod4) Do More in Ubuntu

Immediately after I reinstalled 8.10, I noticed my Windows keys behaving badly. I actually forgot that this was something I had to deal with before. It boiled down to changing the default behavior of the Windows key in the keyboard layout "Other Settings" panel to map it to the "Super" key. Viola. I can now assign it at will.

Here's a link to a write-up about it:
http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntucat/windowsmodifier/

I Tried but I've Had Enough of Jaunty Jackalope (Ubuntu 9.04)

It took a long time, but I'm willing to concede defeat now. Ubuntu 9.04 sucks on Dell D430 hardware. Perhaps it was the half-baked release for older hardware. Perhaps it was the decision to go exclusively to open-sourced drivers. Perhaps it was just all the little irks I got tired of dealing with. In the end it doesn't matter. It all added up to wasted time and effort trying to either correct or work around the myriad of problems with video drivers, bluetooth drivers, and other nonesense you shouldn't have to deal with in Ubuntu. After all, it worked nearly flawlessly in 8.10 so why shouldn't it for 9.04? It *is* supposed to be an upgrade after all.

At any rate, I *downgraded* to 8.10 last night. I have to tell you, I missed my perfectly functioning video drivers. I still need to see if I need to reinstall the latest broadcom wireless drivers, but that's in my previous posts.

In the end, I learned that newer isn't always better. I'll take a look at the 10.x release in a year or two. For now, 8.10 is perfect for this machine with this hardware. Stick with what works and works best.