For Ronald

It happens that I was (re)installing Ubuntu Dapper on my laptop this afternoon too, like Ronald was on his new Mac.
The laptop has been dist-upgraded since I first installed warty on it, and on the development repositories for most of the way. It had accumulated a bit of cruft because of all the hacks I had to do when things broke during the dev cycles, and I’d never been able to get either hibernation or suspend to work at all.
I copied /home, /etc and /var off to another machine and did a complete reinstall, which worked flawlessly.

Here’s some notes from the post-install. There aren’t many, because by and large things worked flawlessly for me:

  • X had the wrong resolution by default. I had to edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and change it from 1024×768 to 1400×1050.
  • The 3D stuff was set up automatically, using the open source DRI drivers. For better DRI performance (xorg doesn’t get them right on its own), I added these lines to the xorg.conf:
    • Option “AGPMode” “4”
    • Option “AGPSize” “64”
  • Multimedia.
    • plugins – the usual story – too many formats are encumbered for one reason or another and can’t be included in the default install, so playing anything from Apple Trailers wouldn’t work. Following the instructions in the Ubuntu wiki, I added the universe and multiverse repositories to my apt configuration in /etc/apt/sources.list and installed the packages for restricted formats:
      • gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg gstreamer0.10-pitfdll gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse
    • After that, I could play trailers on the Apple trailers site, and Rhythmbox could play the few m4a files I have access to.
    • I only partially agree with Ronald about the ‘cryptic fd://0 errors’ when trying to play things in totem’s mozilla playing.The title of the box was poorly labelled ‘Could not play fd://0’ (this should be fixable in totem to show the URL instead), but the text of the dialog box clearly stated something along the lines of ‘You do not have a decoder installed to handle this file’ and put me on the right track. However, it doesn’t say what format or plugins to look for, which sucks. There’s been some discussions in the past about building a mechanism for telling the user exactly which plugin/package they should look for, but noone has ever built it.
    • software – totem & rhythmbox are the main multimedia apps I use. Both were installed, but the totem-gstreamer-firefox-plugin wasn’t for some reason. Simple enough to install that.
    • ALSA set itself up nicely with DMIX, so no worries about sharing the sound card between applications. Unfortunately, that tends to cause shuddery video playback in GStreamer and (to a lesser extent) xine for reasons that are best explained in another post.
  • Hibernation:
    • Encouragingly, worked the first time I tried it – immediately after installing and logging in, before doing any configuration or anything.
    • Sadly, failed in the old way an hour later after I’d installed stuff, copied some pieces of my home directory back across, and had a few apps running it failed in the same way as before the reinstall: by getting as far through the hibernate as ‘turn the screen off’ and then sitting there flashing the hard-disk-access light for the next 10 minutes until I switch it off via the power button.
    • I really wish I knew how to fix it – the hard disk in this machine is so slow it takes a good 4-5 minutes to boot up, so I hate turning it off, and carrying it around still turned on isn’t much better.