Saturday, March 25, 2006

Dabbling in Dapper Drake

I bought a new laptop. It's Acer TravelMate 2414 LMi and I have great news: Ubuntu Linux supports it out of the box. WiFi, 3D acceleration, sound mixer, sleep mode, CD burner - everything works without any reconfiguring. Well, some of the special "Acer keys" don't generate scancodes (some do!). This can supposedly be fixed using "acerhk" package but so far I don't care about them.

If you are worried about Linux compatibility, it seems Acer is the way to go (at least its TravelMate 2410 series).

A word of warning about the Windows XP included with the laptop: It automatically runs some sort of "Acer Recovery Driver" which NEEDS disk D: to which it writes some sort of recovery information. If disk D: is not present (because the partition has been re-formatted for Linux), it doesn't print any warning but brutally slows down the whole Windows XP system, making it unusable (system load constantly at 100%)! Originally, there were 3 partition on the disk: One small "Windows reinstall partition" (4GB, hidden), standard C: disk (38GB) and D: disk (38GB) used only for the "recovery" mentioned above by default. I don't care what the "recovery" system does (I hope I will be able to reinstall Windows XP from scratch using only the first hidden partition which can be booted from BIOS) so I simply renamed the c:/Program Files/acer/eRecovery directory to "fuck_eRecovery" and Windows XP now works flawlessly. (Sadly, I need it for using FL Studio.) The cleaner solution would probably be to resize the D: disk to less than 1GB or something like that and add your Linux partition after it.

But back to Linux:

After I succesfully installed Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger) and started configuring it, I decided I feel adventurous and tried installing the latest Ubuntu 6.04 (Dapper Drake), soon-to-be "6.06" (the final release was delayed by 2 months).

I first tried it on my ancient UMAX laptop and my ACX 111 based WiFi card (which worked perfectly with Breezy) did not work! I found the solution here (see page 2 of the thread). After simple renaming and re-linking of one file, it works OK. The first definitive improvement I saw was that "Networking profiles" now work, while on Breezy I had to reconfigure all the TCP/IP settings every time I changed the profile (basically, all the "Change Location" button did was it wiped all my settings).

A word of warning, though: Dapper Drake is under heavy development and after installing from the CD (which I downloaded less than a week ago), Package Manager immediately prompted me to download 300 MB of updates! Not very feasible if you are on dial-up.

More to come...

UPDATE: Automatic Flash installation in Firefox does not work, must be manually downloaded from Macromedia site. 3D acceleration not working by default, enabled by simply replacing "Driver" by "i810" in xorg.conf. Biggest shock: Quicktime movies from play flawlessly in vanilla MPlayer without installing any proprietary codecs! How is that possible?


Anonymous said...

Nice to hear that Acer is focusing on quality and compatibility while holding the prices down enough.

Anonymous said...

you must be a fan of creepy laptops:-) nevertheless acer is superior, compared to umax.

Anonymous said...

see also mine:

Anonymous said...

this is great then! i have acer TM 4022 and i'm running k/ubuntu 5.10 but it could not run the wired ethernet card [broadcom 4401]
you can read more on my problem here
-- i hope that it will run in ubuntu 6
as a ubuntu and TM user, i would like to get your commnets on this, please mail me at moshub AT riseup DOT net [please, delete the address later]