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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ubuntu Part 2

Well, I've been trying to get Ubuntu (Hardy Heron) to properly display my desktop across monitors, and finally after upgrading to 8.10, called Intrepid Ibex, and updating a single line in the xorg.conf (/etc/X11) file...:

SubSection "Display"
Virtual 2720 768

...it now works. The upgraded display config utility clued me in to the required resolution setting in the file (it prompted to add it when breaking the display mirror setting). Sigh...Linux gets a bit easier to use and configure. When I tried changing this in Heron, using either the conf file/utility, I usually ended up with a totally hosed display.

Display settings much simpler to tweak in Intrepid...

In a previous post, I described how I loaded Linux as a second operating environment to my laptop. It's a used Gateway Pentium dual-core machine that I bought from a co-worker last year (actually for my wife, but she doesn't use it much). Vista was getting bogged down in my opinion, so I decided to set up a dual-boot workstation with Linux. I posted about that initial experience with the intention of coming back and doing a part 2 on the more advanced options, but I have not been successful enough to warrant a part 2. I am happy with Ubuntu's overall performance, but some of the problems and detractors are really starting to fluster me:

Exhibit A: Can't get the synce or multisync modules functional with my handhelds, even after the upgrade. This might be attributable to my firewall in Ubuntu. Firewall (iptables) seems to continue to filter or at least log entries (according to dmesg) even when disabled.

Exhibit B: No handy blogging applications like Windows Live Writer. If you blog, you must get this tool, period. MS actually got this right, which is somewhat of a surprise. Oh and it's free...

Exhibhit C: Can't play DVD movies. Have tried a couple of tools (Mplayer, etc), but still no dice.

Exhibit D: Can't find a suitable driver/program for my FM radio tuner...

Issues Resolved:
1. The display problems noted above...finally
2. Internal WLAN adapter not connecting (this ate up some serious time to figure out). Turned out to be a driver/device issue that was fixed by an update as well--and by disabling an old, unused device. Of course, I had to connect via a wired network to get the update.

Note: Linux is like the weather off the coast of Alaska. If you don't like it, just wait a minute, and it will likely change. If you update it regularly (which can be done via an update manager as simple to use as Windows), there's a chance a fix has been included in the code base for what is ailing your build. The update manager will even let you upgrade your full release. For steps on upgrading from Hardy to Intrepid, check out this step-by-step here. Linux is free, but real pro technical support will cost you. You can get a lead on most problems at the community site chats, forums etc, here...

Flock Social Networking....browser?

I did find this browser called flock (flock.com). They have a distro for linux, and a plus is that you can run it straight from the uncompressed binaries (no need to install it). Just extract and execute the flock-browser executable, which also means you can download and run it from any linux-based PC, etc (like via a USB stick, etc). Flock is like Firefox, but for the blog/twitter-crazed and obsessed. It starts by gathering all your blog, and social site login information, favorite feeds, etc., and then tabulating it throughout the browser for 1-click access. It's blog information overload in a web browser. I'd rather just go to bloglines.com, myself.

Bloglines...the discriminating blogger's resource.

I grabbed flock because I wanted something that might compete with Live Writer, but quickly found the blogging tool portion to be sorely lacking. Flock requires use of a separate process to handle image uploads. Then you must manually link in your individual uploaded images by URL in the post, which is rather arcane. In fact it's downright lame, considering you can drag and drop images, text, etc right into Live Writer, and then dump it all to your blog when you publish your post. Flock had some kind of add-on to enhance this a bit, but still doesn't get the job done. My search for a decent blog tool, and the inability to at least sync my gadgets could keep me from using Ubuntu for little more than e-mail and casual surfing, so fixing those issues are my next major hurdles to overcome somehow.

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