萬法唯心 – Impermanence

Ubuntu 8.10

November 3, 2008 9:25 pm

Tried out Ubuntu’s latest version (8.10 – The Intrepid Ibex) over the weekend on a laptop and a old Dell desktop, both of them works without any problem. The big improvement for my laptop (Toshiba Tecra-S1) that I noticed is the xorg settings in gnome for external monitors. I didn’t need to go and change the xorg.conf manually this time, I only need to set it from the GUI, restart and everything works. It even works on a 22″ HD ready monitor (LG 22LS4D) displaying the correct resoluation (1920×1080) which didn’t work with Ubuntu 7.10 nor 8.04. I would recommend trying this version if xorg hasn’t been working properly for you in previous version.

Another additional feature that I found interesting is that it allow auto login, so you no longer have to type in your username and password on startup. The default timeout for this auto login is 10 seconds, which I can see is quite handy if you are using it solely at home as a desktop but obvious the draw back is that the system is less secure if auto login used. Haven’t found any problem with it yet, another great release, thanks to everyone who worked on this!

Ubuntu 7.10 Gusty

November 1, 2007 7:13 pm

For some reason I didn’t keep up to date this time, I only found out about the new Ubuntu 7.10 Gusty release being told by a friend. I think my demand for my home PC is dropping, mainly using it for surfing the internet really! Surprisingly the new release doesn’t work for me!

So no luck for me with Ubuntu this time because firstly the upgrade manager (7.04 to 7.10) wouldn’t work… so I did a fresh install (keeping my /home directory). After that everything seems to work but it wouldn’t display correctly on the external montior (Xerox XA7), I tried almost all the settings I can think of including manually editing the xorg.conf and using the auto-config tools, just wouldn’t go above 800×600! Imagine a 19″ monitor on 800×600 resolution! I can stand a lot of the features not working, but working on a proper resolution is one of the min. requirements.

As much as I like Ubuntu, I have decided that I will try something different, may be something very simple, something very fast and stable, doesn’t have to look good but run very fast on my laptop (Toshiba Tecra-S1), and of course supporting 1280×1024. Decided to try out FreeBSD and may be with gnome 2 since the main upgrade in Ubuntu 7.10 is the support of the new gnome, but I know that it’s very possible that it’s gnome 2 which is not compatible with my monitor and or my ATI graphics card! Will see how that goes, but conclusion is, simple is good…

On a side note, about simplicity, I have come to like a very old text editor (VI) very much. It must be one of the oldest text editor that comes with Linux, it’s great because it’s so simple, don’t even need the mouse to operate it, your hand can stand on the keyboard all the time while performing search, replace, etc… There are Windows version (e.g. VIM) which people have developed. Also I’m using a web browser called Epiphany is great too, very simple and fast, but less feature as compare to FireFox. Something that’s worth trying out.

Final Year Project – Windows!

June 15, 2007 10:20 pm

Looks like I can’t run away from Windows. Just handed in the Final Report for the Final year project yesterday and now thinking about the presentation on the coming Monday. So I need to do some demostration of the program which I developed and it requires

The problem is that Quartus II Web Edition is only free for Windows but not Linux, so after thinking about it for a long time I decided to install Windows again. The process isn’t that straight forward but found some very useful tools. I only had a 40GB hard drives with only 8GB free, so I used that for Windows but after the installation I find out I don’t have enough space to install all the program that I need to install. So I asked Terry to let me his 120GB 7200rpm hard drives, that solved the space problem but I didn’t want to reinstall everything and so I find a software for migrating hard drives called:

It’s a great program I have to say and it comes with 15 days trail! Everything works great and it handles both Linux and Windows partition without any problem. It also allows manually adjusting the size of the new partitions. After the migration, everything works, quite a surprise to me actually as I can still remember last time when I try to clone a hard drive.

It has been quite a while since I have Windows on my laptop (Tecra S1) now, just for fun I tried the Vista Transformation Pack by WindowsX. That also works without any problem, quite a interesting program, but mainly it just brings a nicer interface to XP. But be warn, there are always risks with this kind of program. Anyway, I’m quite happy with the migration especially thanks to Acronis for the excellent tool and Terry for letting me his hard drive. Linux will still be the main OS that I will be using and I don’t think I need a new computer any time soon :).

Installing Ubuntu on Toshiba Tecra S1

April 18, 2007 2:16 am

System info of Toshiba Tecra S1:

  • BIOS: Version 2.50
  • system-version:PT831T-11Q4L
  • Ubuntu Version – Currently using Feisty 7.04, previously worked on 6.10 Edgy and 6.04 as well
  • Kernel – currently using 2.6.20-15-generic, had problem with 2.6.20-14 but 2.6.20-13 works

Hardware Components



Pentium M 1.5GHz Works No special procedure
15″ XGA TFT Screen Works Default settings works
External VGA – 19″ Xerox XA7 Works See this post for xorg settings
ATI Radeon 9000 Mobility Works Read this post for 3D support
1280MB RAM (1.2G DDR-266) Works No special procedure
40GB HDD 5400 RPM Works No special procedure
DVD/CD-RW Combo Drive Works No special procedure
WLAN (Intel PRO/Wireless 802.11B) Works No special procedure
LAN Works No special procedure
56k Modem Untested No special procedure
SD Card reader Untested No special procedure
Lithium-Ion Battery Works No special procedure
Sound Card Works No special procedure
SD Card reader Works No special procedure
USB 2 Works Plug and Play works for external harddisks including k800i

Basic Installation of Ubuntu:

  • Very simple to install with graphics interface, can test if everything works first before installation with the live CD.
  • Ubuntu is a free distribution, can download from the Official Website
  • A very useful online guide (wiki) for Ubuntu
  • Post-Install modifications/tweaks – there are many tutorials online, here is one that I wrote for my laptop

Setting up additional features for Ubuntu

Unresolved issues

  • Couldn’t get Direct 3D to work on external monitor at 1280×1024 resolution, therefore Beryl can only work on 1024×768.

Configuration Files

  • Sources.list – /etc/apt/sources.list – follow this guide to add extra repositories
  • Menu.lst – /boot/grub/menu.lst – Startup menu for choosing which OS to enter
  • Xorg.conf – /etc/X11/xorg.conf – Some changes to get 1280×1024 resolution to work on 19″ Xerox XA7

Section “Monitor”
Identifier “Xerox XA7”
Option “DPMS”
HorizSync 31-82
VertRefresh 60-75

Some useful commands

  • sudo – wherever you want admin access
  • sudo aptitude search <application name> – search for a application that you can download and install
  • sudo aptitude install <application name> – download and install a application
  • sudo gedit <file name> – use gedit to edit a file, can use sudo nano <file> in recovery mode
  • sudo fdisk -l – list all the hard disks available
  • ifconfig – same as ipconfig in windows
  • ctrl + z – stop a running command in terminal
  • ctrl + alt + backspace – restart Xorg
  • mount myiso.iso /mnt/iso/ -o loop – mount an iso image

Some Applications that I found useful – not installed by default

  • Tomboy Notes
  • Gnumeric

Contact Information


Beryl + Ubuntu + ATI Mobility 9000

April 14, 2007 12:07 am

Spent some time today trying to get Beryl to work on my Toshiba Tecra S1 running Ubuntu Feisty 7.04 beta with ATI Mobility 9000 graphics card. To start I used the following xorg.conf settings:

Section “Device”
Identifier “ATI 9000”
Driver “radeon”
Option “DRI” “true”
Option “RenderAccel” “true”
Option “EnablePageFlip” “true”
Option “XAANoOffscreenPixmaps”
Option “DisableGLXRootClipping” “true”
Option “AddARGBGLXVisuals” “true”
Option “AllowGLXWithComposite” “true”
Option “AGPMode” “4”
Option “AccelMethod” “XAA”
Option “ColorTiling” “on”
Option “AGPFastWrite” “on”
Option “GARTSize” “64”
BusID “PCI:1:0:0”

Note that I used the driver radeon instead of fglrx and with xgl loaded. With these settings, I could get direct rendering on, can check yours by:

$ glxinfo | grep direct
direct rendering: Yes

After restarting Xorg, installed Beryl with the following command:

sudo aptitude install beryl beryl-manager emerald-themes

After the installation, I started the Beryl manager, however Beryl doesn’t start automatically. I ran the command beryl in the terminal it returns with the following error:

Checking maximum texture size : failed

Root window size (1280/1024) is bigger then maximum texture size (1024×1024)

From some online resources, I find out that I can use driconf to set the graphics card to have allow_large_textures = 2. However this didn’t solve the problem for me, later I found that I can set GARTSize to higher in xorg.conf. I tried:

Option “GARTSize” “256”

After restarting Xorg, I was able to run beryl without the error given before. However it returns a white screen, restarted Xorg again and find that direct rendering is off. It was found that setting the GARTSize to anything larger than 64 will set direct rendering to off. Knowing that I couldn’t get it to work on 1280×1024 on the external monitor (19″ Xerox XA7), I tried it on lower resolution 1024×768 and got that to work with the following screenshot:

Beryl on Ubuntu + ATI

Given that you are not using an external monitor, it would work on the laptop monitor on resolution 1024×768. The function shown in the screenshot is really the only function that I want from Beryl, and knowing that ATI doesn’t work very well with Beryl/Compiz anyway, don’t think there is much I can do to make it work on 1280×1024 unless new drivers come on or with another graphics card.

Optimising my Laptop – Ubuntu Feisty

April 3, 2007 7:43 pm

Before really getting into my final year project and revision for exams. I spent some time ugrading my 3+ years old laptop (Toshiba Tecra-S1) from Ubuntu 6.10 to 7.04 and optimising it. At the same time cleaned up my desk to have more space to work.

My Workspace - Desktop

I have trying many different ways of optimising it with online resources including some websites and forums. Here are the changes or applications that I have installed that I felt have increased the performance dramatically.

  • Upgrading to Xorg 7.2 beta (follow link for detials)
  • Added all the respositories on this page and perform a update + upgrade
  • Installed the windows manager E17, see below for details

Also tried out a windows manager called Enlightenment (E17), the installation was quite simple, updated some repos and did a apt-get install. Then just log out and change the session and everything works already. I have to say it looks very nice with many special effects, however after using it for a while (10 mins) I find that I prefer the normal gnome. The effects are just too much for me, but it’s quite impressive that it’s very fast with all these eye-candle enable. After I decided to go back to the normal gnome, I find that applications switching and menu loading are a lot faster. Not sure excatly why that is, possibly because some softwares and core has been updated.

Anyway I’m quite happy that everything is working fine now on this laptop and it doesn’t feel slow at all! It doesn’t take much time to load any application, if I don’t run any heavy program or applications, don’t think its responses is any slower than a new desktop. It’s amazing how Linux makes this possible, but at the same time I do feel that Linux is getting way too user friendly, a bit like windows!