Got a Netbook…

I am going to a conference soon, and my wife cannot part with her laptop now, so I bought a $300 Asus Eee-PC netbook (1005HAB), with a 9-cell battery that gives me close to 9 hrs of battery time.  I bought it online through Best Buy (I know, I know), and picked it up at the store a few days later.  I had Windows7 Starter Edition on it.  I prepped a USB drive using a the KDE Startup Disk Creator program and the Kubuntu 10.04 Netbook Edition ISO.  I had to find the BIOS first (F2), and tell the netbook to boot from USB, but after that, Kubuntu Netbook installed without a hitch.  I chose to wipe everything, since the netbook came with the OS media (if I ever want to install Windows, yuck – but hey, I paid for it).  I set it up with separate partitions (including /boot) and formatted everything with EXT4 (for later conversion to btrfs when the 2.6.36 kernel comes out).

Everything worked right out of the box.  Including wireless and suspend-resume.  Sweet.  It is a little slow, but who cares?  This thing is so neat.  I am a little addicted to being able to go anywhere around the house now and surf, blog, email, and administer the other machines from this thing.  When I am done, I can close the lid, and later open it back up, wait a bit, and then be prompted to unlock the screen and get back online, no sweat.

In addition to updating the kernel to 2.6.35-17 and updating KDE to version 4.4.5, I also installed the MediBuntu repositories, set up the USB smartcard with Acrobat Reader, Firefox, and Thunderbird, and got the camera working with the new gmail video chat software.  One more thing – to get the function keys to work, I had to edit my /etc/default/grub file and change the line

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"

to

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash acpi_osi=Linux"

I also installed “eee-control-tray” from the repositories for better control over the camera, touchpad, etc.  The only thing I do not like is the touchpad, in fact.  When scrolling on a web page, it likes to keep scrolling whenever I move it into the page to click on a a link.  I use a USB wireless mouse now.  We are taking this thing everywhere we go now.

Now Using Kubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx…

Well, I finally upgraded my work machine from Jaunty to Lucid about a month ago, and really liked what I saw.  I was using 64-bit, and got sick and tired of all the little issues with flash, Java, and Acrobat Reader., so I switched to 32-bit instead.  KDE4 seems much more stable and polished now, and I can sign PDFs with my smartcard now in Acrobat Reader.  Since it worked so well at work, I went ahead and upgraded at home after a couple weeks.  This involved swapping my media computer with my main computer (the old RAID SATA setup I have is getting a little squirrelly), and rebuilding both.  The RAID computer was built using the Alternate Install ISO, which worked well.  In both cases, I lost no data unless I chose to, so the 300 GB of movies I had copied from our DVDs was wiped from the old media server.  I figure I can always recopy them in a smaller format later.  Yesterday, I updated my wife’s laptop, completely rebuilding it (wiped everything after backing up the user data).  I restored her data later and nothing was lost.

Some common things I am doing to customize my Lucid installs of Kubuntu are:

  1. sudo wget --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/$(lsb_release -cs).list && sudo apt-get --quiet update && sudo apt-get --yes --quiet --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get --quiet update (from https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Medibuntu)
  2. sudo apt-get --yes install app-install-data-medibuntu apport-hooks-medibuntu
  3. sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2 w32codecs
  4. Update to a later kernel (currently 2.6.35-17) – sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kernel-ppa/ppa && sudo apt-get update
  5. sudo apt-get install linux-headers-2.6.35-17 linux-headers-2.6.35-17-generic linux-image-2.6.35-17-generic linux-maverick-source-2.6.35
  6. Update to a later version of KDE4 (currently KDE 4.4.5) – sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/ppa && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

So far, things work very well.  The computer with squid, squidGuard, and dansguardian is not going to be upgraded, however.  Another thing – no more XFS.  I now use EXT4 with everything, and have a separate /boot partition.  This is so I can more easily convert to btrfs when 2.6.26 comes out.  I read that btrfs suffered a large performance regression in the 2.6.35 kernel, so I will hold out for the 2.6.36 kernel instead.

Upgrading Kubuntu-9.04 from PPA – KDE 4, Xorg, Wine, OpenOffice 3…

I have upgraded all my systems to KDE 4.3.1 very successfully, and it is gorgeous.  While still slower than LXDE (this will likely always be the case), it is much better than the 4.2 that shipped with Jaunty.  I have also upgraded to OpenOffice 3.1.1, the latest stable Wine, and I have updated Xorg as well – all from the PPA (Personal Packages Archive) site.  Here is how, and from where:

To use these, click on each link, then:

  1. Select your sources.list version and copy the two deb lines to your /etc/apt/sources.list file
  2. Import the key with this command – sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 12345678 (replace 12345678 with the appropriate import key listed above)
  3. Update with sudo apt-get update
  4. Upgrade with sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Hope this helps, but YMMV.  This is only a “howto if you want”, not a “recommendation that you do”.  If things blow up, well, that’s the risk you take.  I find it encouraging, however, that across four different Kubuntu 9.04 systems, I have not had any problems from these upgrades, and found that many fixes and improvements had taken place.

Ultimately, this article is really to help me for future upgrades.  But if you get something good from here, that’s cool too.

XFCE on Kubuntu – My First Impressions…

I have been playing around with XFCE4 on Kubuntu for a couple weeks now.  I have looked at some config files, tried a little theming (very little), and basically poked around some of the config util GUIs.  It is quite fast to start up, and most functions are available that I had in KDE (konsole acts weird when I run it, but that is almost certainly my doing).  I do miss the customizabililty KDE has, however.  One thing that really confounds me is the apparent difficulty in having a different wallpaper for each desktop workspace (as shown in pager).  The default system approach seems to be one wallpaper for all desktops, and I have no idea how to change this.  There are some other things to learn as well, like using Launcher to add programs from a menu to a taskbar, whereas in KDE, you would just drag-n-drop or right-click and Add from one of your program menus.

Anyway, not gripes, just observations.  It is pretty cool, and I like it enough to keep on playing with it.  I certainly do not mind having to edit or even create a config file or three along the way – sounds like fun to me!  I still prefer KDE – it has never been “slow” on any of my systems (one of which is quite old), but XFCE4 is a nice diversion and so far, one worth the effort.  More to follow later, I guess.

Oh yeah, before I run off, I installed it using Adept, while in KDE – I looked for the XFCE and Xubuntu packages, and installed them that way.   Then I logged off and logged back in, choosing XFCE instead of KDE for the desktop environment.